Surprise, Surprise: Legal Pot Does Not Increase the Number of Teens Smoking

A lot of horror stories about marijuana and youths exist, but new data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment busts at least one of them: no, marijuana legalization doesn’t equate higher rates of teen smoking. Recreational marijuana use became legal for adults 21 and over in Colorado back in 2012. Prior to 2012, in 2009 about 25 percent of Colorado teens reportedly used marijuana. Compare that to a slightly smaller 21 percent of Colorado youths in 2015, post-legalization.


“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don’t use marijuana, even occasionally,” the Colorado health department said in a statement issued to the public Monday.

Just as legal abortion doesn’t inspire women to get out there and get pregnant for the great thrill that is having an abortion just because they can, apparently legalizing marijuana doesn’t magically send teens (who are underage and can’t actually legally smoke it in the state) to their local dealer. Granted, the data could be skewed in that teens might be too afraid of consequences to be completely honest, but I don’t see why more teens would lie about this in 2015 than in 2009. Hopefully, this is comforting to concerned parents around the country as the recreational marijuana legalization movement seems to grow stronger by the day, reaching the Nov. 8 ballots of several states including California.

It’s worth noting that while it’s a scientifically disproven myth that marijuana completely and utterly wrecks one’s brain, the drug can have some detrimental effects on the still-developing brains of minors. Additionally, younger marijuana users are more likely to become addicted to the drug, and teens are at higher risk of several mental and physical health problems later in life.

But, that doesn’t mean warnings about the drug for individuals over 21 haven’t been greatly exaggerated as a means to use the public’s paranoia to justify the racially charged War on Drugs. And it certainly doesn’t mean cannabis doesn’t have a host of health benefits worth taking note of. These benefits range from the drug’s ability to kill cancer cells and ease seizures and paralysis to its role in lowering body mass index and helping women have orgasms.

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