One of the main arguments that many naysayers use against legalizing pot is that its legal status will lead to teens abusing the drug illegally. Even if the argument were a valid one, would teen abuse of pot be worse than teens abusing alcohol or cigarettes? Nobody seems to care about that point, but there’s new evidence to prove that it’s not even a valid concern to begin with: increased use of legalized marijuana has not led to an increase in teen use.
On the contrary, teens today report being unable to find weed compared with the rate of their predecessors. Only two decades ago, high school students who were surveyed said that over 90% of them would have no problem finding some pot to buy, while 82% of sophomores and more than 50% of 8th graders reported the same ease in locating a seller. Today, only 34% of 8th graders say the same thing, as did 64% of sophomores and 81% of seniors in high school.
Some theories as to why these kids can’t find weed anymore when it’s legal up to a point in almost half of the United States are circulating. One is that the kids are just liars, and another is that they are too busy to smoke these days what with their gaming, countless activities, homework pressure and jobs. No matter the reason, if the results of the survey were honest counts, suffice to say teens are at least not able to find and purchase more pot just because it’s now legal in many places.
The survey did not include how many teens actually use pot, so that’s not necessarily a causation but a mere correlation; even so, it’s another piece of evidence to support legalizing weed that goes against one of the most common arguments used against it in the first place.
Other evidence, however, has supported the claim that legalizing pot will not lead to an increase in teen use. In July of 2016, a survey found that there has been no increase in teen use of pot despite the legalization and increased availability of the drug in the state. The rate of teens admitting to using pot remains fairly high at 1 out of every 5 in Colorado, but that number remains unchanged from the rate prior to legalization. Around 14% of teens in the state say that they’ve used drugs without a prescription at some point in their lives, which is actually lower than the average across the nation.
Of the teens surveyed who say that they have used weed, 11 percent say that they got their drugs from either their own medical marijuana card or someone else’s. Most, however, said that they were either given pot by someone or “obtained it in another way,” which accounts for a variety of ways of obtaining weed without medical marijuana. The same stats prove to be similar in other states where legalization has occurred.