Does Youth Marijuana Use Increase When Pot Is Legalized?

Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Massachusetts is considering legalizing recreational marijuana this fall, but the movement is not without resistance – Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and several State House leaders have banded together to stop marijuana legalization from happening.

If The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act passes this fall, people 21 and older would be able to possess up to 1 ounce of green, hold 10 ounces safely at home and grow up to 12 plants (trying to make Colorado jealous, are you, Massachusetts?).

One of the reasons for the opposition is the children. Legalizing marijuana will undoubtedly increase youth access to marijuana, or so they say. But is that true? Let’s look at Colorado.

Young People and Marijuana: Does Legalizing Restrict Youth Access?

Marijuana hasn’t been legal for very long in the states where in has been legalized, so there aren’t too many comprehensive studies on the subject.

One study cited by opponents of Massachusetts legalization stated that upon legalization in Colorado, our state became the number one state in the country for teen marijuana use. Teen marijuana use rose 12.5 percent. That may seem like a big jump, but that study went on to say that the change was statistically insignificant – for the purposes of the study, it meant that Colorado had only a negligible change in teen marijuana use. This is because teen marijuana use was around 11.2 percent in 2012 and 2013, and only rose about 1.4 percent once marijuana was legalized – a very small, statistically insignificant increase.

We were already pretty high (ha) up on that list anyway, at number 3, and the number 1 and number 2 states (Rhode Island and Vermont, respectively) both experienced drops in the same time frame.

What do you think? Does legal marijuana make it easier for kids to get their hands on drugs? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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