By Paul Armentano


Prohibitionists’ fears that liberalizing marijuana penalties will lead to a rise in teen use have failed to come to fruition.

The latest evidence is a report from the United States Center for Disease Control finding that the percentage of high-schoolers ever reporting having used cannabis fell from an estimated 43

percent in 1995 to just under 39 percent in 2015. The percentage of teens currently using cannabis (defined as having used marijuana at least once in the past 30 days) also declined during this same period, from 25 percent in 1995 to just under 22 percent in 2015. The percentage of teens using cocaine similarly trended downward, falling from roughly 8 percent in 1995 to 5 percent last year.

During this same time period, two-dozen states enacted statutes permitting qualified patients to consume cannabis, and four states enacted laws permitting the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults.

The CDC data also reported that young people’s marijuana use continued to decline between the years 2013 and 2015 – following the enactment of retail marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington.

The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey results are consistent with to those of numerous other studies finding that changes in cannabis’ legal status are not associated with increased use among adolescents, including the findings two other federally commissioned data sets.

Photo Credits: ProtoMag


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About Paul Armentano

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and a Senior Policy Advisor at Freedom Leaf. He also serves on the faculty of Oaksterdam University. Mr. Armentano’s writing and research on marijuana policy have appeared in well over 750 publications, scholarly and/or peer-reviewed journals, as well as in more than two dozen textbooks and anthologies. He is the co-author of the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (2009, Chelsea Green), which has been licensed and translated internationally, and more recently, The Citizens’ Guide to State-by-State Marijuana Laws (Whitman Books, 2015). Mr. Armentano is the 2013 Freedom Law School Health Freedom Champion of the Year and the 2013 Alfred R. Lindesmith award recipient in the achievement in the field of scholarship.

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