The number one argument against marijuana legalization — that legalizing such a substance will ultimately result in more children being exposed and getting addicted to it — has been completely contradicted by the 2014 Monitoring the Future government survey. The survey results were published earlier this month by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Despite the massive shift in public opinion regarding marijuana (evidenced by the nation’s multiple voter-enacted recreational markets and the sheer number of other states that have legalized medical marijuana in some form), the use of cannabis and other drugs among U.S. teenagers has actually been decreasing.
Even in Colorado, where retail marijuana stores opened one year ago, the numbers reflect what advocates have been spouting for decades: marijuana prohibition doesn’t work. Instead, legalization and a program for the regulated distribution and sale of the drug is what’s needed to address the problem in a realistic manner.
NIDA’s survey coincides with similar findings from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use, a poll from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which also noted decreasing trends of drug use among minors.
Both surveys reinforce the argument that education is the best weapon against drug abuse. The most important part of educating kids about a drug is maintaining an honest representation of the substance — something that was incredibly uncommon with marijuana until recently. With scientific evidence from experts beginning to replace the ideological rhetoric and propaganda from politicians, public discussions about marijuana are becoming more and more one-sided, as they should be.
The real message inferred is that decades of hardball drug prohibition have failed to address drug use, among adolescents or otherwise, in addition to bringing about the imprisonment of thousands of non-violent drug offenders and the destruction of countless American families. However, after a year of watching and participating in highly publicized and regulated markets, we’re already seeing progress.
Photo Credit: Matthew Yaktine
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