AURORA, CO — 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.
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.
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