A Canadian study involving high schoolers has found that cannabis legalization made it harder for minors to access the controversial plant. According to the newly published study, the portion of students who said they had easy access to marijuana has fallen recently.
This period of reduced minor access to cannabis also coincides with the Canadian government legalizing marijuana consumption for eligible adults and authorizing cannabis retail outlets across Canada. The study contradicts cannabis legalization opponents who claimed that removing criminal penalties for possessing and consuming cannabis would make it significantly easier for youth and young children to access cannabis.
Researchers used data from a multitopic student survey called the COMPASS Study to determine whether or not students have had increased access to cannabis post-legalization. The survey polled students from grades 9 to 12 in secondary schools in Alberta, Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario. The research team considered cannabis-related questions posted to the students during three separate time periods: 2018–19, 2019–20 and 2020–21.
The research team looked at the responses to the following two questions: “In the last 12 months, how often did you use marijuana or cannabis?” and “Do you think it would be difficult or easy for you to get marijuana if you wanted some?”
Team members discovered that the frequency among students who reported having easy access to cannabis dropped by 26.7% from 51.0% to 37.4% while rates of past-month cannabis use fell from 12.7% in the 2018–19 period to 7.5% in 2020–21, despite the country legalizing cannabis and launching legal sales.
Study participants were more likely to report gaining easier access to marijuana as they grew older, especially the participants who used cannabis as minors. Furthermore, the research team noted that students with a history of marijuana use had a higher likelihood of reporting having easy access to the drug post-legalization.
The initial coronavirus pandemic period “slightly impeded” ease of access to cannabis, but the issue went away as the pandemic continued.
Researchers say that while self-reported access to marijuana among minors has decreased since Canada legalized the drug and during the pandemic period, the chances of underage students reporting increased ease of access to cannabis rise as they grow older and advance through high school, especially among the third wave of participants in the most recent COMPASS survey data. Consequently, the researchers say, there is still a lot of room for improving cannabis control efforts and maximizing their impact to limit minor access to marijuana.
This research provides yet more evidence that legalizing marijuana and licensing companies such as Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF) goes a long way in preventing minors from accessing the substance.
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