Health surveys of United States high school students from 1993 to 2017 were analyzed by researchers at Montana State University. Although the use of cannabis in general has risen among the youth, use among teens decreased by almost 10 percent in certain states where the plant has been legalized for recreational purposes.
Cannabis may be legal for medicinal use in roughly 33 states, and it’s legal for recreational use in 10 states, but it is still illegal across every state to persons under the age of 18.
The lead author of the study – Mark Anderson – and his team examined the data on approximately 1.4 million teens in the United States. The data came from the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys, a national survey conducted every year by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Too expensive and too much effort
Anderson said that it is typically more difficult for teenagers to purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries where they require proof of age, than from random dealers. It is usually more expensive to buy from a dispensary as well, which could be the explanation for the drop in cannabis usage.
Anderson said the researchers found that changes in cannabis usage only occurred after it was legalized for recreational use, not when it was legalized for medicinal use. However, the results oppose the findings of a Colorado study done last year, which revealed that the amount of high school students who said they used cannabis remained the same after their state legalized recreational cannabis use in 2014.
Anderson told CNN that because the legalization of cannabis in the majority of states has only occurred recently, the researchers would have to keep track of the data and update their report a few years in the future.