Middle school weed use
Middle school weed use

8th Grade Sober - Legalizing Weed Does Not Lead to an Increase in Middle School Cannabis Use Says New Study

States that legalize cannabis do not see any upward trends in middle school kids trying marijuana!

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Wednesday Mar 20, 2024

middle school weed use

An enduring argument against the legalization of cannabis suggests that legalizing access might prompt a rise in cannabis use among youth. However, as states nationwide forge ahead with reform efforts, ongoing research sheds light on the validity of this claim.


Fresh from a recent study revealing the prevalence of Delta-8 THC usage among high school seniors—a hemp-derived cannabinoid readily available beyond the legal cannabis sector and in states both with and without cannabis programs—some may ponder the extent of teen cannabis use in states with recreational legalization and whether reform has exacerbated these patterns.


A recent study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, set out to explore the impact of legal cannabis laws on adolescent usage. It examined lifetime and past 30-day cannabis consumption among middle school-aged adolescents in Nevada and New Mexico. The study ultimately confirmed what many prior studies have suggested: the commencement of state-licensed cannabis sales does not correlate with a surge in cannabis use among young individuals.


Subheading 1: Examining Adolescent Cannabis Use in States with Legal and Illegal Recreational Policies


Considering the narrow area of study conducted on the plant in recent decades, the effects of cannabis are still being investigated. It is commonly known that cannabis usage throughout adolescence can have a considerable negative influence on development, even if cannabis and its constituents may have some positive effects.


Researchers used data from the NV Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2017 and 2019 as well as the NM Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey to examine the effect of legalizing cannabis for adult use on teenage cannabis usage. The purpose of these state-administered surveys in Nevada and New Mexico is to track health-related behaviors among students in the United States.


Employing difference-in-difference analyses, researchers compared behaviors related to lifetime and past 30-day cannabis use in Nevada and New Mexico during the same timeframe. Nevada had legalized adult-use cannabis sales, while New Mexico had not.


The analysis indicated that the likelihood of lifetime and past 30-day cannabis use increased in both states over the observed period, particularly among female students, older individuals, non-white students, or those attending Title 1 schools.


Ultimately, researchers observed "no difference in lifetime and P30D marijuana use by adult-use sales status." Instead, cannabis consumption in both states followed similar patterns. While researchers expressed concern about the negative health effects of early cannabis use, the legality of cannabis in a given state did not seem to be a determining factor.


The study notes, "We did not find compelling evidence that implementation of adult-use marijuana sales was associated with an immediate increase in lifetime or P30D marijuana use among middle school youth in Nevada, which aligns with previous research."


Subheading 2: Building Evidence and Corresponding Studies


Numerous studies in the past have reached a similar consensus: Cannabis reform does not seem to be associated with a rise in usage among adolescents.


A policy paper from 2022 took a broader perspective, analyzing data on consumption among eighth, 10th-, and 12th-grade students. It discovered that youth consumption either "declines or stays consistent in regulated markets."


"State legalization of cannabis, on average, has not affected the prevalence of cannabis use among adolescents. Put simply, states with medical and/or adult-use laws are not experiencing greater increases in adolescent use compared to states where cannabis remains illegal," the report asserts. It also highlights that early educational prevention strategies can be effective in curbing youth consumption.


The same trend seems to hold when specifically examining medical cannabis laws. A 2021 study found no evidence between 1991 and 2015 indicating increases in adolescents reporting past 30-day marijuana use or heavy marijuana use associated with the enactment of state medical marijuana laws (MML) or the presence of operational MML dispensaries.


A related subject was examined in another study: Do children's views about cannabis usage and their perceptions of its hazards differ depending on whether cannabis is legal or outlawed in a state for adult use? Researchers concluded that, rather than state policy, the main factor influencing children's opinions about cannabis was their traits.


These results are supported by a recent study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows a steady decrease in high school students' cannabis usage between 2011 and 2021.


Even though the cannabis business is still developing, additional studies on this subject are likely to be conducted in the future. However, the information available today indicates that the claim that legal cannabis use would result in a rise in youth usage is weak, and those who oppose change may need to look for other justifications.


Future Implications and Areas for Further Research


There are still opportunities for investigation and analysis, even though the research that is now available offers insightful information on the connection between cannabis laws and juvenile usage. Subsequent investigations may explore the enduring consequences of cannabis legalization on teenage conduct, encompassing any modifications in viewpoints, attitudes, and general health consequences.


Analyzing regional differences in the application and enforcement of cannabis legislation may provide a more nuanced understanding of their effects on the consuming habits of young people. Disparities in juvenile consumption rates may also become clearer when socioeconomic considerations, cultural norms, and community dynamics are understood about cannabis legislation.


Furthermore, it is critical to evaluate the impact of newly developed cannabis products and consumption techniques, like as edibles and vaping devices, on the start and usage of cannabis among young people. For policymakers and public health professionals, longitudinal studies that monitor changes in consumption habits over time might yield useful information.


In the end, further research in this field is crucial for guiding evidence-based policy choices and creating focused preventative initiatives to lessen the possible risks connected to cannabis use among young people. By filling up knowledge gaps and keeping up with changing patterns, academics may help create a more thorough grasp of the intricate connection between cannabis legislation and teenage behaviour.


Bottom Line


The body of research presented indicates that the fear of increased youth cannabis usage as a result of legalization appears to lack substantial evidence. Across multiple studies, including analyses of both recreational and medical cannabis laws, there is little to no association found between legalization and heightened adolescent consumption. While ongoing research is essential to comprehensively understand the nuances of cannabis legislation's impact on youth behavior, the current findings suggest that stringent regulatory measures and targeted prevention strategies may be more effective in addressing any potential risks associated with youth cannabis use than blanket prohibitions. Therefore, policymakers should consider evidence-based approaches that prioritize public health and education rather than relying on unsubstantiated fears to guide policy decisions regarding cannabis legalization.





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