Colorado: Retail Marijuana Sales Not Associated With Increased Youth Access Or Use

COLORADO:  The establishment of retail cannabis sales for adults is not associated with either increased marijuana access or use by young people, according to data published online in the journal Prevention Science.

A team of investigators with the University of Colorado, School of Public Health assessed marijuana use trends among a representative sample of Colorado high-school students for the years just prior to the implementation of retail sales and again 18-months later.

Authors reported: “There was an absence of significant effects for change in lifetime or past 30-day marijuana use. Among those reporting past 30-day use, frequent use and use on school property declined. There was a significant decline in the perceived harm associated with marijuana use, but we did not find a significant effect for perceived wrongfulness, perceived ease of access, or perceived parental disapproval.”

They concluded, “We did not find a significant effect associated with the introduction of legal sales of recreational marijuana to adults in Colorado on adolescent (illegal) use.”

The data is consistent with prior studies finding that neither the enactment of medical cannabis legalization nor the enactment of adult use regulation is independently associated with increased marijuana use by young people. Separate survey data released by the Department of Public Health and Environment last month reported that rates of marijuana use by Colorado teens have remained virtually unchanged following legalization, and are consistent with the national average.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Adolescent marijuana use, marijuana-related perceptions, and use of other substances before and after initiation of retail marijuana sales in Colorado (2013-2015),” appears in Prevention Science.

Study: Marijuana Decriminalization Leads To Decreased Arrests, No Increase In Youth Use

MISSOURI: State laws reducing minor marijuana possession offenses from criminal to civil violations (aka decriminalization) are associated with dramatic reductions in drug-related arrests, and are not linked to any uptick in youth cannabis use, according to data published by researchers affiliated with Washington University and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators examined the impact of cannabis decriminalization on arrests and youth cannabis use in five states that passed decriminalization measures between the years 2008 and 2014: Massachusetts (decriminalized in 2008), Connecticut (2011), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2013), and Maryland (2014). Data on cannabis use were obtained from state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys; arrest data were obtained from federal crime statistics.

Authors reported: “Decriminalization of cannabis in five states between the years 2009 and 2014 was associated with large and immediate decreases in drug-related arrests for both youth and adults. … The sharp drop in arrest rates suggests that implementation of these policies likely changed police behavior as intended.”

They further reported: “Decriminalization was not associated with increased cannabis use either in aggregate or in any of the five states analyzed separately, nor did we see any delayed effects in a lag analysis, which allowed for the possibility of a two-year (one period) delay in policy impact. In fact, the lag analysis suggested a potential protective effect of decriminalization.” In two of the five states assessed, Rhode Island and Vermont, researchers determined that the prevalence of youth cannabis use declined following the enactment of decriminalization.

Investigators concluded: “[I]mplementation of cannabis decriminalization likely leads to a large decrease in the number of arrests among youth (as well as adults) and we see no evidence of increases in youth cannabis use. On the contrary, cannabis use rates declined after decriminalization. … These findings are consistent with the interpretation that decriminalization policies likely succeed with respect to their intended effects and that their short-term unintended consequences are minimal.”

Thirteen states currently impose either partial or full decriminalization. Nine additional states and Washington, DC have subsequently amended their decriminalization laws in a manner that fully legalizes the use of marijuana by adults.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.orgFull text of the study, “Cannabis decriminalization: A study of recent policy change in five states,” is available online. Additional fact-sheets regarding the societal effects of decriminalization policies are available from NORML online.

Marijuana Legalization As Viewed From The Trenches Of Youth: Karina Baffa

OHIO:  As a recent high school graduate, I have seen the short- and long-term effects of marijuana from all aspects of my life. I believe that the opinions and viewpoints of our younger generation are vital when it comes to the decision to legalize marijuana.

Even though this drug has positive medical uses and effects, it is still a mind-altering drug that needs to be legally regulated and used responsibly when utilized for recreational purposes.

As a member of society, I believe the legalization of marijuana would implement a plethora of health and economic benefits. Studies portray a decrease in violence and aggressive behavior after someone smokes marijuana, as opposed to people intoxicated with alcohol, who can sometimes get violent and make poor decisions, causing thousands of deaths per year. The fact that marijuana is currently prescribed in 23 states for medical purposes validates that the medical world has approved and accepted the drug. In addition to health benefits, the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado is already bringing in more than $30 million of taxable revenue a month.