‘But what about the kids’.
Most of us drug policy reformers have been asked this question (or one like it) by a well-meaning adult concerned that marijuana legalization sends the ‘wrong message’ to our youth.
And we get it- people worry that legalization could lead young people to start using marijuana at an earlier age or make it more socially acceptable for them to use.
The researchers were curious about whether the onset of retail marijuana sales in Colorado in 2014 had an impact on adolescent use – attitudes towards marijuana and access to marijuana.
They analyzed responses from over 20,000 public middle and high school students who completed the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) and compared their 2013 responses to their 2014 responses in order to detect any possible changes.
So what did they find?
There was no sudden increase in reported rates of marijuana use after retail sales began in 2014.
Rates remained essentially the same as 2013.
The portion of adolescents who thought that smoking marijuana was harmful also did not change.