Following the enactment of both medical cannabis access laws and adult use marijuana laws, there has been no rise in self-reported marijuana use by adolescents.
"Rates of marijuana use by teens have been of great interest to researchers over the past decade, given major social and legislative shifts around the drug. ... Fortunately, even as teens' attitudes toward marijuana's harms continue to relax, they are not showing corresponding increases in marijuana use."
Since 2002, perceived availability of marijuana among young people has fallen dramatically nationwide.
"Between 2002 and 2015, we observed a 27% overall reduction in the relative proportion of adolescents ages 12-17-and a 42 percent reduction among those ages 12-14-reporting that it would be "very easy" to obtain marijuana. This pattern was uniformly observed among youth in all sociodemographic subgroups. ... Despite the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in some states, our findings suggest that ... perceptions that marijuana would be very easy to obtain are on the decline among American youth."
The enactment of medical cannabis laws is not associated with any causal upticks in youth marijuana use
"This study sought to delineate associations between state-level shifts in decriminalization and medical marijuana laws (MML) and adolescent marijuana use. Using data on 861,082 adolescents (14 to 18+ years; 51% female) drawn from 1999 to 2015 state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS), difference-in-differences models assessed how decriminalization and MML (medical marijuana legalization) policy enactment were associated with adolescent marijuana use, controlling for tobacco and alcohol policy shifts, adolescent characteristics, and state and year trends. ... Neither policy was significantly associated with heavy marijuana use or the frequency of use. ... [R]esults assuage concerns over potential detrimental effects of more liberal marijuana policies on youth use."
"The evidence from large nationally representative surveys has not consistently demonstrated that MMLs (medical marijuana laws) have increased adolescent cannabis use. Adolescent use is higher in states that have passed MMLs, but this reflects higher rates of use before the passage of MMLs."
"This systematic review screened 2999 unique papers retrieved from 17 sources, yielding 21 unique studies. Ultimately, 11 studies passed secondary exclusion criteria designed to ensure optimal study quality. ... [A]ll estimates of pre–post changes in past-month marijuana use within MML (medical marijuana law) states from these studies were non-significant. ... In summary, current evidence does not support the hypothesis that MML passage is associated with increased marijuana use prevalence among adolescents in states that have passed such laws."
"We aimed to examine the availability of medical marijuana dispensaries, price of medical marijuana products, and variety of medical marijuana products in school neighborhoods and their associations with adolescents’ use of marijuana and susceptibility to use marijuana in the future. ... The distance from school to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary was not associated with adolescents’ use of marijuana in the past month or susceptibility to use marijuana in the future, nor was the weighted count of medical marijuana dispensaries within the 3-mi band of school. Neither the product price nor the product variety in the dispensary nearest to school was associated with marijuana use or susceptibility to use. The results were robust to different specifications of medical marijuana measures. ... There was no evidence supporting the associations of medical marijuana availability, price, or product variety around school with adolescents’ marijuana use and susceptibility to use."
"Of 17 large surveys using difference-in-difference methods spanning different states, periods, and specifications, 16 indicated no MML (medical marijuana laws) effects on adolescent use. Despite differences in methodology, the findings were very consistent: post-MML adolescent cannabis use did not increase compared to pre-MML levels and to national trends in non-MML states during the corresponding years."
"Among 8th graders, the prevalence of marijuana, binge drinking, cigarette use, non-medical use of opioids, amphetamines and tranquilizers, and any non-marijuana illicit drug use decreased after MML (medical marijuana laws)enactment. ... MML enactment is associated with decreases in marijuana and other drugs in early adolescence in those states."
"Past month MU (marijuana use) did not increase after enactment of MML (medical marijuana laws) in men or women ages 12–25. ... There were no statistically significant increases in past-year MUD (marijuana use disorder) prevalence for any age or gender group after MML enactment."
"The prevalence of past-year cannabis use among youth decreased from 15.8 percent in 2002 to 13.1 percent in 2014. ... Among youth cannabis users, the prevalence of past-year CUD (cannabis use disorder) decreased from 27.0 percent in 2002 to 20.4 percent in 2014."
"Models adjusted for national trends showed no significant change in the prevalence of past-month marijuana use among adolescents or young adults (those ages 18-25) after the enactment of MMLs. ... Our results did not show evidence of increased prevalence of Cannabis Use Disorder (abuse and/or dependence according to DSM-IV criteria) among adolescents or adults after states enacted MMLs."
"Using data through 2011, this study found little evidence for an increase in past-30-
day marijuana use, or past-30-day heavy marijuana use, among adolescents in response to state-enacted medical marijuana laws, regardless of most provisions, consistent with findings from other recent studies."
"[W]hen within-state changes are properly considered and pre-MML (medical marijuana law) prevalence is properly controlled, there is no evidence of a differential increase in past-month marijuana use in youth that can be attributed to state medical marijuana laws."
"[T]he results of this study showed no evidence for an increase in adolescent marijuana use after the passage of state laws permitting use of marijuana for medical purposes. ... [C]oncerns that increased marijuana use is an unintended effect of state marijuana laws seem unfounded."
"There were no statistically significant differences in marijuana use before and after policy change for any state pairing. In the regression analysis, we did not find an overall increased probability of marijuana use related to the policy change. ... This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization of medical marijuana."
The passage of adult use cannabis laws is not associated with any causal upticks in youth marijuana use in those jurisdictions that have enacted them
There has been "no significant change in past 30-day use of marijuana between 2013 (19.7%) and 2017 (19.4%). Also, in 2017, the use rates were not different from the national 30-day use rates reported by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In 2017, 19.4% of Colorado high school students reported using marijuana in the past 30-days compared to 19.8% of high school students nationally that reported this behavior."
"[T]he HYS (Washington Healthy Use Survey) shows statistically significant declines in (marijuana use) prevalence from 2010-2012 to 2014-2016 among both 8th graders (from 9.8% to 7.3%) and 10th graders (from 19.8% to 17.8%). Neither MTF (Monitoring the Future survey) nor HYS analysis showed changes among 12th graders."
"[W]e did not find a significant effect for perceived wrongfulness, perceived ease of access, or perceived parental disapproval. We did not find significant variability in past 30-day use by demographic characteristics or by school and community factors from 2013 to 2015. We did not find a significant effect associated with the introduction of legal sales of recreational marijuana to adults in Colorado on adolescent (illegal) use."
"With legalization of retail marijuana in Colorado, and the opening of dispensaries in January 2014, two key questions were how legalization would impact marijuana use and whether there would be an increase in adverse health events. Legalization did not noticeably impact marijuana use rates among adolescents or young adults. Past-30-day use among adolescents remained steady for more than ten years, pre- and post-legalization."
"According to the 2017 data [provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey,] the most recent available, 19.6 percent of Colorado high school students currently use marijuana -- a couple of ticks below the national average of 19.8 percent. Moreover, the latest Colorado numbers are well below the 21.2 percent registered in 2015, the year after recreational sales went into effect, and 22 percent circa the pre-legalization year of 2011. As for lifetime use of marijuana among Colorado high-schoolers, it fell to 35.5 percent, a little under the 35.6 percent national average. The Colorado figures from 2015 and 2011 were 38 percent and 39.5 percent, respectively."
"Certainly the worst things that we had great fear about (the legalization of marijuana for adults in Colorado) – spikes in consumption, kids, people driving while high – we haven't seen any of that. We saw a little increase in teenagers and that came down within a couple years. ... We were very worried that by legalizing, we were making this more somehow more psychologically available to kids. We haven't seen that. If anything, we've seen less drug dealers."
"I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth. [There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers. We just haven't seen that pan out. ... It appears that teenagers make decisions to consume marijuana for reasons other than legalization—like they do with other risk behaviors."
"[A]cross grades 6, 8, 10, and 12, cannabis use indicators have been stable or fallen slightly since I-502's enactment. ... We found no evidence that the amount of legal cannabis sales affected youth substance use or attitudes about cannabis or drug-related criminal convictions."
"[T]he presence of recreational marijuana retail store(s) was not associated with perceived easy access to marijuana, controlling for perceived ease of access before the retail sales. There was no significant change in past 30-day marijuana use in bivariate analysis or in a multivariate model including presence of a recreational marijuana store."
"For adults and adolescents [in Colorado], past-month marijuana use has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users. Based on the most comprehensive data available, past month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average."
[M]arijuana use, both among adults and among youth [in Colorado], does not appear to be increasing to date. No change was observed in past 30-day marijuana use among adults between 2014 (13.6 percent) and 2015 (13.4 percent). Similarly, there was no statistically significant change in 30-day or lifetime marijuana use among high school students between 2013 (lifetime: 36.9 percent, 30-day: 19.7 percent) and 2015 (lifetime: 38.0 percent, 30-day: 21.2 percent)."
"We can state with some confidence that, even in states that have enacted marijuana liberalization policies, marijuana use among adolescents is not currently increasing. In fact, there is rather compelling evidence that adolescent marijuana use has steadily declined."
"Despite concerns that legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults in 2012 may also increase teens' ability to access to marijuana [in Washington], preliminary analyses of state-wide HYS (Healthy Youth Survey) data suggest otherwise."