Teen Marijuana Use On the Decline In Colorado After Adult Legalization

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October 21, 2016
Denver, CO

Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado high school students has dropped since the state made marijuana legal in 2012, according to a press release distributed Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

 According to preliminary data from the state’s biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, in 2013 – the first full year the drug was legal for adults 21 and older – 20 percent of high school students admitted using pot in the preceding month and 37 percent said they had at some point in their lives.

The survey’s 2011 edition found 22 percent of high school students used the drug in the past month and 39 percent had ever sampled it.

It’s unclear if the year-to-year decline represents a statistically significant change, but data from 2009 suggests a multiyear downward trend. That year 25 percent of high school kids said they used pot in the past month and 45 percent said they had ever done so.

A working paper published late last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research also concluded there is no causal relationship between medical marijuana laws and increases in teen marijuana use. According to the researchers, “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that legalization leads to increased use of marijuana by teenagers.”

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