More and more states are decriminalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use. Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. Anti-drug groups feared that this would spark an increase in marijuana addiction among teenagers. Has this proven to be true?
According to The Marijuana Report, marijuana use did not increase among high school students once a state has legalized the substance.
Another study from the University School of Medicine in St. Louis noted that the number of teens with marijuana related problems was declining. More than 216 000 adolescents from 50 states were surveyed, and not only were marijuana related problems declining, but so was actual marijuana use by youngsters, which declined over a 12 year time period. The finding was that from 202 to 2013, there was a 24 percent decline in dependency and behavior related problems due to cannabis use.
SagePub reports that, “although some marijuana-related attitudes changed between 1995 and 1999, use did not increase. These findings suggest that recent policy changes have had little impact on marijuana-related behavior”. This study was designed to assess the effect of legalization of medical marijuana on drug-related attitudes and use among young adults,
Have adolescents become “dumbed down” because of marijuana?
Teenagers who smoke weed regularly before the age of 16 do perform worse on cognitive tests of brain function than those who smoke recreationally later in life, according to researchers. Since their brains are still developing, marijuana is likely to affect the brain, making them disadvantaged academically.
With legalization making marijuana easily available, we should be seeing an explosion in marijuana problems and poor academic performance among young adults. Fortunately, this has not been the case. Researchers have found that disapproval of marijuana use has actually increased among adolescents ages 12 to 14. In 2013, 79 percent of kids in this age group said they strongly disapproved of people smoking marijuana, up from 74 percent who said the same in 2002.