Changes in marijuana laws are not associated with increased use of the substance by teens, according to data compiled by Washington’s Healthy Youth Survey and published by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy.
State survey results from the years 2002 to 2014 show little change in cannabis consumption by Washington teens despite the passage of laws permitting and expanding the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes during this time.
Self-reported marijuana use fell slightly among 8th graders, 10th graders, and 12th graders during this period. Young people’ self-reported access to cannabis also remained largely unchanged during this time period, although more 8th graders now report that marijuana is “hard to get.”
The passage of voter-initiated legislation legalizing the adult use of cannabis in 2012 is also not to associated with any increase in consumption by youth. Between 2012 and 2014, self-reported lifetime marijuana use and/or use within the past 30 days either stayed stable or fell among all of the age groups surveyed.
The report concluded, “[C]annabis use and access among students in 6th through 12th grades have changed little from 2002 through the most recent survey in 2014.”
The findings are consistent with those of previous assessments acknowledging that liberalizing state marijuana laws does not stimulate increased use among young people.