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420 with CNW — Federal Survey Reaffirms State-Level Cannabis Legalization Hasn’t Changed Teen Use Patterns

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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A new survey has determined that the use of marijuana in teens hasn’t increased even as more states legalize the drug’s use across the country. The survey was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan. It determined that rates of past-year marijuana use remained stable for all grades that took part in the survey, even as more cannabis markets opened and expanded for adults countrywide.

During a webinar last week, NIDA’s chief of epidemiological research Marsha Lopez stated that no significant increases had been observed with no increase in perceived availability being recorded either. The survey, which questioned teens on the use of delta-8 THC products, found that past-year cannabis use stood at 29%, 17.8% and 8.3% for 12, 10th and 8th graders respectively.

Delta-8 THC is one of the many psychoactive cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant, of which hemp and marijuana are two varieties. Products based on this cannabinoid are typically derived from hemp and sold in mainly unregulated markets, though some states have enacted bans or restrictions.

Between 2020 to 2022, 11 more states legalized the use of cannabis. Data from the survey shows that the liberalization of cannabis policies in these newly legal states didn’t translate into increased perceptions of availability among the youth, with Lopez noting that the perceptions were actually trending downward. This is despite the fact that 2022 recorded the highest ever use of recreational marijuana and some psychedelics. The survey’s results also show steadier decreases in the perception of harm of using marijuana.

The results support advocates’ stand against arguments that legalizing adult-use marijuana would cause underage use to increase. In fact, findings show that in regulated markets where IDs were checked and other safeguards set up, youth access was restricted. In addition, the survey found that there was relatively low prevalence of daily marijuana use, which had been steady for the last decade.

The investigators also compared a range of cannabis-related indicators from teens living in states in which marijuana is illegal and states that have legalized medical use. They observed no statistically significant differences in past-year rates of use across all grades examined, regardless of state medical cannabis laws.

With regard to teens who do consume marijuana, the majority of them revealed that they smoked the drug, but the survey observed a shift in consumption methods, with more teens switching to edibles or vaping.

In a press release, Richard Miech, the survey’s team lead, highlighted the importance of monitoring the use of this drug among teens moving forward.

The findings from the survey possibly trigger thoughts of “we told you so” from cannabis industry participants such as Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NASDAQ: ACB) (TSX: ACB) that have always believed that setting up regulated markets for cannabis could reduce teen access to the substance.

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