The Associated Press recently ran a story about the effects that recreational marijuana legalization has on teen cannabis use. And the results were not surprising at all. The report cited a study conducted by Montana State University, where national trends on teen pot use were analyzed.
What were the findings you ask? That when marijuana is legalized for recreational use by adults 21 and over, and regulated and sold by state-licensed dispensaries, teenage use of the plant actually decreases. But how is that unsurprising Sassylunchbox420? Isn’t it counter-intuitive to think that legalizing cannabis would lead to lower numbers of teens using marijuana?
Short answer: No! Long answer: I’ve said for years that there is no such thing as a gateway drug, however, there is such a thing as a gateway drug dealer. This study just provides actual concrete evidence to what a lot of us have known for a long time. If we allow people legal access to cannabis and take out the need for them to purchase the plant on the black market, it actually makes it more difficult for teens to acquire. That when people are forced to buy marijuana illegally from drug dealers, they are exposed to other drugs that those dealers sell. And it’s that exposure that leads to increased use of those other harder, less natural drugs. Shocking, I know.
Mark Anderson, a health economist and lead author of the Montana State University study, says that the decrease in teen use when cannabis is legal for recreational use, “…may be [because] it’s harder and costlier for teens to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries than from dealers…” . It is important to note here that the study did not find the same correlation between medical marijuana legalization and decreased teen use, which to me only strengthens the need for full legalization.
When cannabis is legalized, the benefits to society and each individual are numerous. Consumers are safer when they can purchase their weed in the light of day and they no longer need to fear the ‘drug deal gone wrong.’ Dispensaries help people feel safe and confident with their marijuana use, they know where the plant came from, the strain, its properties, and the proper dosage. Harder drug use also decreases across the board because people that just want to smoke weed aren’t exposed to them and no longer have them easily accessible. Also, It’s safer for our police officers. Our police forces already has thin resources and doesn’t need to be needlessly spending to enforce arcane pot laws. They can focus on the real problems plaguing our communities. And as evidenced in the Montana State University study, teen marijuana use actually decreases! Then when cannabis is legalized that sweet, sweet tax revenue can be used to further youth education about marijuana and other drugs.
Cities are already seeing success with programs launched with funds raised from taxing recreational weed sales. One such program, named High Costs, was started by the city Denver in Colorado. This initiative, “…utilizes creative strategies to teach kids facts around early marijuana use instead of old-school scare tactics.”  Say what? You mean the scare tactics we all experienced in D.A.R.E. wasn’t an effective education program to prevent kids from using drugs? I’m being sarcastic, but I was actually thrilled to read that new and innovative programs were being introduced to actually educate kids about drugs and provide them with useful information that will allow them to make informed decisions. To top it all off, these courses will be funded with the money from ‘drug sales’! “Teens want facts and they want to be able to make their own decisions,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “When we give teens the facts and equip them with knowledge, they make smarter choices about using marijuana.”  Well said.
Until next time, be kind babies.
Written by ohiocannabis.com contributor sassylunchbox420, firstname.lastname@example.org