Not that I’m expecting that this is going to come to a stop any time soon, but another study has been conducted that provides evidence that legalization of marijuana has no effect on teen use or their capability to obtain it. This is actually the third study I’ve gotten to report on – and I absolutely love to see the myths of the dangers of cannabis and legalization be proven false repeatedly. It’s one thing if something is shown to you once, or twice, but three times and you should be starting to see the trend.
Within the past 6 months or so, this will be the third study that provides data to disprove any argument about teens that prohibitionists had before. First, in most of the states which have legalized so far, the percentage of teens who used marijuana were higher than the national average – and those numbers have stayed within a few percentage points of one another before and after legalization was implemented.
This new study was specifically looking at the percentage of teens who said that it was easy to obtain marijuana. They were asked this question, among others, like access to alcohol, tobacco, liquor and other drugs like cocaine, LSD, etc. The findings showed that in Washington, 55% of teens answered that marijuana was easy to access in 2010, prior to recreational legalization for adults. The same question received a 54% response in 2014, two years after legalization.
“It is both surprising and reassuring that teens didn’t perceive that marijuana was easier to access after it was legalized for recreational use by adults,” said senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.
“It was interesting and somewhat concerning, though, that while teens responded that it was harder to access cigarettes, alcohol, and psychoactive drugs abuse in 2014 compared to 4 years earlier, they didn’t report increased difficulty in obtaining marijuana during that same time period,” he said.
Facing the fact that legalization does not contribute to ease of access of marijuana for teens, it could be time for all those anti-legalization efforts to consider an alternative. Perhaps, given enough time to wipe out the black market, as legalization laws continue to improve, we may finally see that decrease everyone is looking for. A shop owner will be checking I.D., whereas black market dealers will sell to anyone – and many won’t hesitate to offer something stronger and more addictive (after all, that’s how they create customers and those customers become addicts).
We can’t expect legalization would be able to wipe out the black market in one big swoop – after all, it’s been up and running for decades. Plus, people who sold illegally before could choose to sell out of state in order to continue their lifestyle. It will take time and lots of work to stomp out the black market, but the only way to do so is to legalize and regulate – and all these studies are pointing to this same conclusion in the end. Regulation does not increase teen access or use and it may actually decrease these factors if given the chance to do so.