The Kids Aren’t All High: Feds Find Pot Legalization Not Increasing Teen Use

Photo by Vortex Farmacy

This year, Colorado will record more than $1 billion worth of legal, over-the-counter cannabis sales. On Election Day, four more states signed up to follow and legalize Colorado-style adult-use marijuana—a potential market ten times as big as Colorado’s, and in the case of places like California, a marketplace that already has a well-established cannabis industry and built-in demand.

All this to say that there is more marijuana around in America than ever before, and more Americans than ever think legalization is not just a good idea but the right thing to do. “But what about the children?” you may ask (especially if you’re trying to stand in the way of this runaway traums train). The kids are pissed off, because it’s harder than ever for them to find any of this highest-quality, readily-available weed.

Every year, the federal government asks kids to tell them—honestly, please—just how easy it is to score drugs. And according to the results of the most recent “Monitoring the Future” survey, in the age of legalization, American adolescents are “reporting the scarcest availability” since 1992, as US News reported today.

Not that marijuana is impossible to find. According to the survey, 34.6 percent of eighth graders said it would be “easy” for them to drop the survey and find someone to sell them some weed. Among high school sophomores, 64 percent said cannabis was easy to find, and for seniors, 81 percent reported readily available marijuana.

Marijuana is the most popular illicit drug in the world—at least in places where it’s still illicit—and this shows that most anyone can get some. But those numbers, while high, are some of the lowest results in the survey’s history.

Twenty years ago, more than 90 percent of high school seniors said it was easy to find marijuana. The same with more than half of eighth graders, and 82 percent of high school sophomores. While there have been a few year-to-year spikes, self-reported availability of marijuana for all age groups has been on a steady downward trend throughout the survey’s history.

Suffice to say this is baffling the scientists, who—what with all the aforementioned weed around, weed so plentiful and bountiful that stoners are accidentally letting their pets get at their once-prized stashes—expected the opposite.

I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” as Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told US News. NIDA, which holds the keys to the country’s official research-grade marijuana supply, also commissions this annual report.

Predictably, marijuana advocates are crowing—since this is exactly what they promised and predicted if voters went along and legalized.

But why is this happening? Nobody knows. There is no widely accepted science as to why this is the case, so in its absence, Volkow offered a few theories.

One, teens appear to be drinking and smoking cigarettes less, so perhaps marijuana usage rates fall in line with that trend. Another is that teens are so addicted to computers and their mobile devices that they spend “less time around friends who could offer them drugs,” Volkow told US News. In other words, social media may have taken over from drugs for dominance over our young people’s lives – and it was only legalization that “prevented” marijuana rates “from plunging,” Volkow suggested.

More Americans are indeed smoking weed, as the 18-to-24-year-old cohort reported a big increase in cannabis use, Volkow noted. Thus, “one would expect that would translate to the adolescents,” she said, according to US News, “but apparently it has not.”

Are the kids lying to us? Is it a massive underage conspiracy? Is Snapchat better for cheap thrills? Whatever it is, the kids are finding something else to do with their free time.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

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