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Legalizing Marijuana Doesn’t Increase Teen Use: Federal Study

The federal MTF study found marijuana use rates for high school teens were largely unchanged from last year

Chuck Grimmett / Flickr

Rates of teen marijuana use remain largely unchanged after legalizing the herb, according to the latest federal study, reports NORML.

The annual Monitoring the Future study, a federally funded look at American adolescents, has released its 2022 findings. The study focused on three school grade groups – 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students. Cannabis use rates for each segment were largely unchanged from last year, according to the numbers.

The MTF study assesses past-year, past-30 day, and daily rates of self-reported substance use among young folks. Rates of teen pot use remained stable in each grade group across all three periods of time.

Weed Consumption Amongst Teens Remains Near Historic Lows

The MTF is “one of the best and most timely tools we have to monitor and understand changes in substance use among young people over time,” said National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow.

MTF data indicates that rates of weed consumption amongst teens remains near historic lows. In 1996, lifetime use of marijuana by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders was 23%, 40%, and 45%, respectively. The 2022 MTF study found those numbers to now be 11%, 24%, and 38% amongst those same groups. 

Furthermore, a consistent decline in adolescents’ use of marijuana is apparent since 2012. That’s when states first began legalizing recreational Cannabis use for adults and establishing regulated retail sales. In recent years, these significantly lower rates are beginning to stagnate. This trend discredits prohibitionist arguments that legalizing marijuana leads to increased consumption by school-aged children and young adults. 

“These latest findings add to the growing body of scientific literature showing that marijuana regulation policies can be implemented in a manner that provides access for adults while simultaneously limiting youth access and misuse,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano.

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