CDC Suggests Cannabis Legalization Reduced Underage Access

According to recent CDC data and analysis by NORML, teenage cannabis use in Seattle, Washington has significantly declined since 2008, with the state’s 2012 cannabis legalization potentially impacting the availability and use of cannabis among high school students.

Full story after the jump.

Teenage cannabis use in the Seattle, Washington area has dropped significantly since 2008, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the state’s 2012 cannabis legalization policy likely played a role.

The report, first outlined by the cannabis advocacy group NORML, noted that the observed decreases in cannabis use among eighth-, tenth-, and twelfth-grade students “might be associated with changes in the availability of cannabis among persons aged ≥21 years as well as limited opportunities to engage in use.”

“Researchers studying the association of cannabis laws with cannabis use among high school students have observed similar declines in cannabis use after legalization of nonmedical cannabis. The legalization of nonmedical cannabis for adults aged ≥21 years in Washington with licensed dispensaries requiring proof of age might have affected availability of cannabis to younger persons as well as their opportunities to engage in its use. This, in turn, might have had an impact on use prevalence.” — CDC analysis excerpt

Links between the legalization of adult-use cannabis and reductions in youth cannabis use have been made in multiple previous studies:

  • Canadian researchers found in 2020 that teenage cannabis use dropped 50% following the federal legalization of cannabis in Canada.
  • One year previously, researchers noted in a study published by JAMA Pediatrics an 8% decline in the number of high schoolers who had used cannabis within the last month.

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