Following marijuana legalization, teen drug use is down in Colorado

Following marijuana legalization, teen drug use is down in Colorado

Published on 12/18/17

One of the biggest concerns from opponents of legalized cannabis is that regulating the market will increase use in children, but the data could not be more clear that this is not happening. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana back in 2012 and since there has been a significant decrease in use from 12-17 year olds in marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, and heroin use. The rate of monthly cannabis use in teens is not below what it was back in 2007. While opponents only see legalization as increased availability of cannabis, the reality is that proper regulation puts sales in the hands of licensed businesses who ID every customer and have no interest in the heavy penalties associated with selling to minors. 

State-level numbers from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that a little more than 9 percent of Colorado teens age 12 to 17 used marijuana monthly in 2015 and 2016, a statistically significant drop from the prior period. That's the lowest rate of monthly marijuana use in the state since 2007 and 2008.

And it's not just marijuana: Rates of teen alcohol, tobacco and heroin use are down sharply in the state, as well.

“Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana,” said Brian Vicente of Vicente Sederberg LLC, one of the drafters of Colorado's marijuana ballot measure, in a statement. “There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs.”

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