Where recreational marijuana is legal, it may be normalizing it among young Americans.
The use of marijuana is up by a large margin among 8th and 10th graders in Washington state since it was legalized in 2014. How harmful marijuana is has dropped in the eyes of 8th graders by 14 percent and 16 percent among 10th graders. Health officials are concerned that legalizing the substance has an effect of normalizing it among children.
Eighth graders have increased pot smoking by 2 percent and tenth graders by 4 percent. According to a joint university study published in JAMA Pediatrics, in Colorado, perceptions that marijuana harms also dropped significantly but use among teen remained stable.
There is a big difference in the use of pot in states that have legalized it than states that have not.
Magdalena Cerdá, a researcher at UC Davis and lead author of the study, told PsyPost, “While legalization for recreational purposes is currently limited to adults, potential impacts on adolescent marijuana use are of particular concern. Some adolescents who try marijuana will go on to chronic use, with an accompanying range of adverse outcomes, from cognitive impairment to downward social mobility, financial, work-related and relationship difficulties.”
Marijuana perceptions and use remained roughly stagnant in older grade levels, reflecting the results of the national monitoring the future survey. Researchers also found that in states without legalization, perceptions of the harms of marijuana dropped by 5 percent among 8th graders and 7 percent among 10th graders, but use was down nearly 1 percent in both groups. Researchers think legalization in Washington state is the vehicle behind the recent change in youth marijuana use. They also admit it could also be a spin-off of lower prices and changing views on marijuana nationally. The study assumes that more research is needed into the various impacts of legalization laws to fully comprehend adverse effects on teens. Marijuana’s label as a Schedule I drug, does mean federally-approved research is difficult to get.