When those who oppose marijuana law reform talk about the reasons why they hold the outdated views that they do, they always come back to the same place: the children. When no other old talking point is getting the message across, their last refuge is to tug on the heart strings of those who are listening by appealing to the natural worry about “the children”.
After all, who doesn’t care about children? If prohibitionists can frame the issue as a danger to kids, then any opposition to their point of view becomes an irrational hatred of children and their safety. It usually goes something like this: “We can’t legalize cannabis because then more teens will use cannabis and since this one study I have says cannabis does all sorts of horrific things to the minds and bodies of teens, then legalization will lead directly to many teens ruining their lives.”
Yet no one is advocating for more teens to use cannabis, and there is absolutely no evidence that legalization leads to more teen use. In fact, empirical data has been showing that quite the opposite is true.
A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that teen use in Colorado – where voters approved adult-use legalization in 2012 – has been on the decline since 2011. While 22% of Colorado high school students reported using marijuana in the past 30 days in 2011, that number had fallen to 21.2% in 2015 and is now 19.6% (compared to 19.8% nationwide).
“After five years of marijuana being legal for adults in Colorado, government surveys continue to find no increase in usage rates among high school students,” said Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert in a statement. “This is very welcome news for Colorado, and it should be particularly welcome news for those who opposed the state’s legalization for fear it would lead to an explosion in teen use. Hopefully it will allay opponents’ concerns in other states where voters or lawmakers are considering proposals to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Colorado is proof that you can prevent teen marijuana use without arresting thousands of responsible adult marijuana consumers every year. Rather than debating whether marijuana should be legal for adults, let’s focus on how we can regulate it and control it to make it less available to teens.”
Without appeals to emotion, prohibitionists have nothing. Logic and reason have already abandoned their position. When people no longer buy their fake scare tactics, the era of marijuana prohibition will be over.