Photo by Randy Laybourne

Youth Use of Marijuana Drops — Again

One of the basic tenets of the anti-marijuana legalization movement has been it will increase use of cannabis by the underaged. And, once again, another government study has shown that to be false. 

The latest figures come from an ongoing government survey funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conducted by the University of Michigan that has tracked drug use among the underaged since 1975. Participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods — lifetime, past year, and past month.

The latest figures indicate youth use of marijuana and other illegal substances continues to decline at a time when many American states have allowed adults access to recreational marijuana. 

“The percentage of adolescents reporting substance use decreased significantly in 2021,” the survey found among eighth, 10th and 12th graders. “In line with continued long-term declines in the use of many illicit substances among adolescents previously reported by the Monitoring the Future survey, these findings represent the largest one-year decrease in overall illicit drug use reported since the survey began in 1975.”

Federal studies continue to show legalization hasn’t contributed to more youth use, even during the pandemic. One published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in September found rates of adolescent cannabis consumption did not increase after states enacted legalization for medical or recreational use.

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A federal report released in May challenged the prohibitionist narrative that state-level marijuana legalization leads to increased youth use. And NIDA Director Nora Volkow herself admitted in a recent interview that, despite her early fears, legalization has not led to increased youth use.

The NIDA-funded survey involved self-reporting by 32,260 students across 319 schools from February to June, and the numbers aren’t surprising to many in the industry. “These latest findings add to the growing body of scientific literature showing that marijuana regulation policies can be implemented in a manner that provides access for adults while simultaneously limiting youth access and misuse,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, said.

“These data are unprecedented and highlight one unexpected potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused seismic shifts in the day-to-day lives of adolescents,” Volkow added. “Moving forward, it will be crucial to identify the pivotal elements of this past year that contributed to decreased drug use – whether related to drug availability, family involvement, differences in peer pressure or other factors – and harness them to inform future prevention efforts.”

This piece was originally published by Marijuana Moment and has been edited or modified by The News Station.

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