But not if it involves using cannabis like their parents — at least according to new research, anyway
We’ve all heard the old argument that if cannabis remains illegal, it will deter more kids and adults from smoking it. It is an idea that has been lodged into people’s brains for decades, thanks to programs like D.A.R.E., which convinced impressionable children that cannabis use was going to be the downfall of society.
While D.A.R.E. has become a little antiquated, there are still vocal critics of legalization around these days, as you’re likely well aware. And those folks like to say that it ramps up marijuana and other drug or alcohol use, increases crime, makes traffic more dangerous, harms public health, and lowers teen educational achievements.
Hell, you probably even know a few people who believe that, and they’re almost certainly not calling cannabis “cannabis.” They’re calling it dope, just like your mom’s fourth husband, Jeff, who knew a guy in college who knew a guy who “lost it all” because he started smoking weed.
Well, you can finally tell Jeff to shove it, because recent studies have proven that such nonsense is not the case.
Legalization has no impact on kids’ attitudes toward cannabis
A recent study, published by Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, focused on children’s attitudes toward cannabis in both legal and non-legal states. What researchers were curious about was the idea that the continuing growth of the acceptance of marijuana would lead to younger people not viewing cannabis use as risky.
These researchers, who were affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, assessed children’s perceptions of cannabis for three years. They used data from a multi-state adolescent brain and cognitive development study to see if and how these kids’ views changed over time.
And, here’s where it gets good. What they found that there was no effect on kids’ perceptions of cannabis due to laws from states with recreational cannabis. Cannabis legalization had no impact on their tiny minds, meaning that the kids in legal states didn’t have significantly different perceptions of cannabis legalization compared to the kids in states where prohibition is rampant. Suck it, Jeff!
What this means is that fear tactics, which are common in prohibition states, likely don’t deter kids from wanting to try weed (or not). Rather, it’s individual, child-level characteristics that affected the kids’ view of cannabis.
That said, researchers admit that this is a short-term study, and are now curious to see how these kids’ and adolescents’ views might change as they move into adulthood.
Adolescent marijuana use in legal states is dropping
And, what’s more is that a study conducted in 2021 showed no increase in child marijuana use in states that have legalized recreational use. The results of this study, which was a 10-year study that lasted from 2009-2019, were bolstered by a similar study that lasted even longer but showed the same result.
Even better? Some recent studies show that marijuana use in the youth has actually taken a nosedive, and the legal states of Ohio, Rhode Island, and Hawaii have all shown significant decreases in adolescent cannabis use as well.
Wait, what? The kids aren’t all getting high because you can buy weed in their states? Go freaking figure.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse also released the results of its Monitoring the Future survey last year, and what it showed was that marijuana use in all forms dropped significantly for 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade students.
These results will be surprising to some, but facts are facts.
What this says to us is that the crowd who claims that legal recreational weed use causes an increased use in young people is going to have to find another argument. The baseless claims have continually proven to be proven false — and will almost certainly continue to be debunked.
The same crowd seems to throw whatever they can against the wall, hoping it will stick, and unfortunately, it does in some states (and some households).
The best thing we can do is share information from researchers that debunks their claims so we can move forward with medical and recreational legalization in states that are still dealing with outdated marijuana laws.