Why is it that teen drug use is down in Colorado since weed legalization? Are the state’s youth not interested in cannabis anymore now that it’s legal? Or are they not interested in drugs… period?
Cannabis In Colorado
Back in 2012, residents of Colorado voted in favor of recreational cannabis in their state. By 2014, Colorado Amendment 64 was implemented, and the state’s inhabitants aged 21 and older were able to buy weed without a medical card. During the first year, the state collected $44 million in tax revenue from sales alone. Part of that revenue went to funding social programs to help the citizens of the state.
There’s also another good thing that happened after state lawmakers ratified and implemented Colorado’s Amendment 64. Teen drug use is down in Colorado since weed legalization.
According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cannabis use among Colorado teenagers aged 12 to 17 is only slightly higher than nine percent. This survey focused on monthly cannabis consumption between 2015 to 2016. Experts say that this is the lowest rate of teen weed use in almost a decade.
Even more positive news? The rates of teenagers consuming tobacco products, alcohol and heroin are down as well.
The Reason For Reefer Reduction
One of the authors of Colorado’s Amendment 64, Brian Vicente, attributes the drop in teen cannabis use to the role that the state now has in the business.
“There are serious penalties for selling to minors,” he told Bangor Daily News, “and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs.”
While the explanation that Vicente offered is plausible, there is another factor to consider. Colorado may have legalized recreational cannabis, but they didn’t completely kill the black market. The teens who are consuming cannabis are getting it from somewhere or someone, after all. But even though they still have access to the herb, why has consumption among that demographic gone down so dramatically?
A possible theory is that by removing the illegality of a substance, you remove the stigma and “forbidden fruit factor” of said substance. If teenagers see adults consuming cannabis, the act may seem less transgressive and therefore, less appealing.
Implications For Other States
So if teen drug use is down in Colorado since weed legalization, what does this mean for other states?
We know what the data is nationwide. In 2016, teen cannabis consumption saw a considerable decline. There is also survey data that shows that alcohol consumption has decreased as well.
In contrast to that, cannabis use among adults aged 18 and over has increased. This may suggest that adults are choosing to consume weed over alcohol.
Final Hit: Teen Drug Use Is Down In Colorado Since Weed Legalization
We can’t ignore or dismiss these results. Especially at such a crucial time in our nation’s history of cannabis prohibition. And especially since teen heroin use in Colorado is down in the midst of the opioid crisis. While it may be jumping the gun to conclude that teen drug use will absolutely and without a shadow of a doubt decrease simply by legalizing cannabis, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health is a good starting point for the information and data we need.