Absurd attempts to conflate marijuana use with the deadly opioid crisis continue despite yet more conclusive government research showing declining youth use rates in the wake of cannabis legalization and emerging recreational cannabis markets. The National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health published the longitudinal study which tracked 5 generations (1975-2016) of adolescent drug use across a number of variables. Monitoring the Future, National Survey Results on Drug Use, 2016 Overview: Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2016.pdf.
Authors of the study say that the waning marijuana use rates among kids are likely tied to decreased accessibility. As such, the data suggest that the non-diversion and public safety concerns at the heart of most all cannabis legislation are being addressed by effectively restricting sales to individuals 21 and older or persons 18 or older who have a valid doctor’s recommendation
A closer look at the numbers reveals a more nuanced picture where only 8th graders saw a significant reduction in cannabis use rates (down 2.4% to 9.4%). 9th and 10th grader use saw a dip as well (down 1.5%), but not beyond chance variation. 12th graders, some of whom are 18 and can access medical cannabis, remained virtually unchanged over recent years (non-significant 0.7% rise). At the very least, this and other recent studies on youth drug use are compelling data that cannabis legalization did not facilitate any significant spike in underage use.
These results portend an even greater uphill battle for prohibitionists who have increasingly relied on the “what about the children” argument to stifle cannabis legalization and economic activity. However, in the “alternative facts” era where opinions are confused for “evidence”, the prohibitionists will surely find some way to torture the data into contradicting this clear, downward trend in youth marijuana consumption. Regardless, the prohibitionists’ nightmare, worst-case scenario, at least for now, is not only unfounded but completely discredited by the substantial body of data on drug use and kids. If anything, the Study provides considerable support to the legalization movement because it shows that kids are not picking up cannabis—as some might fear—like cigarettes or alcohol. Parents, therefore, should be more concerned with novel trends like vaping e-juice for which there is little evidence and significant possible health concerns. Surely, there are products out there that are harmful to children; cannabis, it appears, just isn’t one of them….