According to government data released this week by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, teen cannabis use stands at historic lows, NORML reports.
The data comes from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And, apparently, just over 11% of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to having consumed a cannabis product within the last year. Of course, there is always a chance that this figure is higher (pun intended), given that the survey is self-reported. While this number is up from data in 202 and 2021, when teen cannabis use apparently reached historic lows, it clocks in below pre-pandemic (2019) levels.
Meanwhile, the same data shares that 23% of Americans ages 18 and over partook in cannabis during 2022. Over half admitted to having used marijuana at least once in their entire life.
The data is consistent with findings from various other studies that have consistently shown that the implementation of statewide adult-use cannabis legalization has not led to increased rates of youth marijuana use, NORML reports. As High Times reported, recent data from Illinois found that teens who live near medical dispensaries are not more likely to partake in cannabis. Doug Smith, the director of the Center for Prevention Research and Development at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said: “We need to combat the hysteria that legalizing cannabis is going to have a wild and resounding impact on teens in terms of substance use rates and prevalence,” Smith added. “That’s simply not the case.”
And according to a report released in May 2023 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was a significant decline in cannabis consumption among high school students, with a 30% drop in usage from 2011 to 2021.
This period is particularly notable as it coincides with the legalization of cannabis in nearly half of all U.S. states. Additionally, the report reveals a parallel decrease in the number of students who consider themselves current users of cannabis, with the percentage falling by a similar margin. All of such findings show that conservative fear-mongering about adult-use cannabis is wrong. Legalizing marijuana does not lead to increased consumption among teens.
“These findings ought to reassure lawmakers and the public that cannabis access for adults can be legally regulated in a manner that is safe, effective, and that does not significantly impact young people’s consumption habits,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano commented.
During the pandemic, sources say that cannabis use spiked. Everyone was locked inside, afraid, and with little to do but find a way to get by and manage. While there’s nothing wrong with using cannabis, the fact that numbers have reached pre-pandemic levels may indicate that public fears are somewhat calm and have returned to normal. However, there’s a troubling version of what “normal” means in America. Regarding news on cannabis and teens, while they may be using less cannabis than in the year prior, a recent study reveals that California cops are more likely to arrest Black teens.
“Over the past four years, the data collected under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act has provided empirical evidence showing disparities in policing throughout California,” the report states. “This year’s data demonstrates the same trends in disparities for all aspects of law enforcement stops, from the reason for stop to actions taken during stop to results of stop.”
While this data is not explicitly linked to cannabis, according to an October 2022 The Washington Post story, while the state may have legalized adult-use cannabis in July 2021, Virginia police are still more likely to arrest Black people than White folks for cannabis-related offenses. Crime and cannabis are inherently linked. As long as marijuana is illegal on a federal level cops will find a way to weaponize such laws into racist practices.
Recently, around Halloween, headline after headline warned about the dangers of someone underage mistaking regular candy for THC-infused gummies, getting too stoned, and falling victim to everything that Reefer Madness warned about. As High Times reported, “nothing is scarier than cannabis-infused edibles ‘disguised’ as candy for some parents.”
Citizens concerned about the effects of cannabis and teens would benefit from looking at racist arrest data rather than ruin the fun of Halloween with fear-mongering, in this reporter’s humble opinion.
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