Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Defying Critics of Legalization, Teen Pot Use Falls in America

By David Downs
Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Amid record-high support for cannabis law reform, teen marijuana use is falling, according to a new report. It’s yet another blow to critics who argue for the continued prohibition of the federally illegal plant in order to protect youth.

According to 2014 data on teens from the U.S. Monitoring The Future project released today, "Marijuana use … declined slightly in 2014, with use in the prior 12 months declining from 26 percent to 24 percent for the three grades combined.”

The data contradicts prohibitionists' claims that taxing and regulating cannabis for adults will lead to increases in teen use. That argument is a fallacy, as American teens have reported having easy access to prohibited cannabis for decades. US teens have consistently reported higher rates of availability and use of pot than their peers in the Netherlands.

click to enlarge teen_availibility_since_70s.png

Today’s data show that even though teens are less trusting of government propaganda about the relative harms of pot, rates of teen pot use fell. Since 2012, four states and Washington DC have legalized pot. Since 1996, 23 states and DC have enacted medical marijuana laws.

"The belief that regular marijuana use harms the user, however, continues to fall among youth, so changes in this belief do not seem to explain the change in use this year, as it has done over most of the life of the study,” researchers stated.

"Personal disapproval of use is also down some in 8th and 12th grades. Reported availability, on the other hand, is down significantly since 2013 in the two lower grades (and unchanged in 12th grade), which may help to explain the modest decline in use this year.”

Cannabis law reformers have hammered on the point that — just like alcohol and tobacco — marijuana use is not okay for teens.

"Current daily or near-daily marijuana use — defined as use on 20 or more occasions in the prior 30 days — also declined some in 2014. About one in every 17 high school seniors in 2014 (5.8 percent) is a current daily or near-daily marijuana user, which is down from 6.5 percent in 2013.”

Use of other drugs by teens did not change at a statistically significant amount.

More than 650,000 Americans were arrested for pot last year.

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