Article by Matt Ferner, Huffington Post
The abuse of marijuana by American youth has declined in recent years, even as adults’ embrace of the plant has continued to grow, according to a recent federal study.
The findings also suggest that the movement toward legalization and decriminalization of the plant in multiple states hasn’t necessarily increased young people’s access to marijuana.
The study, released last week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examines marijuana use among Americans 12 and older between 2002 and 2014. It concludes that while more adults in general are using marijuana, the percentage of teens using or abusing marijuana, or who are dependent on the drug, has actually decreased.
The 12-year period covered in the study was one in which more than a dozen states rejected prohibition in favor of legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Now, about half the states in the U.S. have legalized some form of marijuana, and several more are considering doing so this year.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance in the United States. In 2013, about 20 million people reported having used the substance in the past month, according to the CDC. In 2015, about 47 percent of U.S. adults admitted to using marijuana during their lifetime.
As use rates are up, one might expect that abuse and dependency rates would follow. Certainly that’s what opponents of marijuana policy reform have warned would happen as the legalization movement forges ahead. But that’s not what the CDC found, especially among young people.