Recreational marijuana has been a hot topic in the United States for years now, with states such as Colorado, Oregon, and Washington leading the way in this uncharted territory. The recent 2016 elections saw even more states pass recreational marijuana laws, including Nevada, California, Massachusetts and Maine.
What does this mean for America? Well, over 63 million people now (or will) have access to recreational marijuana. And, according to a new national survey, the number of teenagers using drugs has dropped, with alcohol and tobacco recording lows that haven’t been seen since the 90’s.
While marijuana use in particular hasn’t seen any significant change, neither up nor down, the survey has left many people surprised.
“I don’t have an explanation,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told U.S. News. “This is somewhat surprising. We had predicted — based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S., as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful — that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up.”
This same trend was seen in Colorado shortly after the state legalized recreational marijuana–teen marijuana use was falling, despite the fact that so many people thought the opposite would happen.
“We’ve always argued that taking marijuana out of the unregulated criminal market and putting sales into the hands of responsible retailers would actually make it harder for young people to get,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority. “The new data bear this out, and it’s just common sense.”
Details of the survey
The survey conducted asked 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students all over the United States a series of questions regarding their drug use and found these results:
- In the past month, marijuana use by 8th-graders dropped from 6.5% in 2015 to 5.4% in 2016.
- Daily use of the drug among 8th-graders fell from 1.1% in 2015 to 0.7% in 2016.
- Marijuana use among 12th-graders stayed relatively the same in both past-month use and daily use between 2015 and 2016.
- Even though marijuana use among 10th-graders also remained relatively the same, they are still at the lowest levels seen in the past 20 years.
- E-cigarettes and marijuana vape-pens are used more commonly by teens than ever before.