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420 with CNW — New Study Shows Teen Cannabis Use in Washington State Has Dropped After Legalization

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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Recently published data from a survey conducted in Washington State among teenagers and adolescents indicates a decline in both past-one-month and lifetime use of cannabis in the past few years, with notable decreases that have persisted through 2023. The findings suggest that the perceived accessibility of marijuana among minors has typically decreased since the state legalized recreational use in 2012, which contradicts concerns voiced by those opposed to legalization.

In 2023, about 8.4% of 10th graders in Washington reported using cannabis within the past month, a slight increase from 7.2% in 2021, according to the study. However, both figures were significantly lower than prelegalization statistics. For instance, in 2010, 20% of 10th graders admitted to using marijuana within the previous month.

Within King County, the most populated county in the state, only 5.5% of 10th graders reported marijuana use in the past 30 days in 2023, a decline from 7.3% in 2021 and a substantial decrease from 18.1% in 2010. Similar reductions were observed in lifetime cannabis use among students in other surveyed grade levels, including 12th, 8th and 6th grades.

In a recent blog post highlighted these findings, the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) indicated a stable trend in youth alcohol and marijuana use since 2021. Health officials credit the significant declines observed between the years 2018 and 2021 at least partially to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, although youth cannabis use had already been declining overall since the legalization of adult-use marijuana.

The state health department stated that while the long-term effects are uncertain, substance use remained relatively stable in 2023 in Washington and across the country. However, there were increases in the abuse of prescription medication, analgesics and other illicit substances compared to 2021, suggesting a need for more preventive measures.

Perceived marijuana access also decreased considerably, according to the study. In 2010, more than one-half of 10th graders surveyed said it would be easy to obtain the substance. However, by 2021, the number fell to 31.6%, and in 2023, this number further decreased to 30.8%.

The study also examined other marijuana-related attitudes and behaviors. Statewide, 10th graders were more likely in the past year to admit the risks of attempting or routinely consuming marijuana. Additionally, more respondents believed that youth using cannabis in their neighborhood would be apprehended by the police.

Even within peer groups, the acceptance of cannabis consumption has decreased compared to before recreational cannabis legalization. The majority of 10th graders now consider it wrong for someone their age to use cannabis.

These findings complement a recent study by the CDC that also utilized the Healthy Youth Survey and found a significant decrease in frequent and current cannabis use among teenagers in King County since the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012. Researchers suggested that legalization and the associated regulations may have made marijuana less accessible to teens, although the COVID-19 pandemic could have also contributed to more declines.

Regarding the latest survey, the LCB expressed interest in understanding the prevalence of past-30-day cannabis use among 10th graders. A small percentage (9%) reported purchasing marijuana from a store or stealing (2%) it, which may indicate access to hemp-derived products outside of the licensed system.

The increasing number of studies confirming that cannabis legalization results in fewer teens accessing the substance confirms what industry actors such as Verano Holdings Corp. (CSE: VRNO) (OTCQX: VRNOF) have always believed that ending prohibition can help in limiting access to marijuana by minors.

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