Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates


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.

  • “Separating out the sum total effect of marijuana legalization from the many other influences on the attitudes and behaviors of adolescents is a difficult task. One way to approach this question with scientific rigor is to follow over time the prevalence of adolescent marijuana use in states that have and have not legalized marijuana use. ,,, Taken as a whole, these studies suggest that marijuana legalization has not had much overall effect on marijuana use by children and adolescents, at least during the past two decades. From 2000 to 2019, marijuana legalization changed substantially, and now medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and recreational marijuana use in 11. Despite these changes, adolescent marijuana prevalence has varied little, with the national percentage of US 12th graders who have ever used marijuana hovering within a narrow window of 42% to 49% during this time period.1 In 2019, it was at 44%, toward the lower end of this range. … In summary, prevalence of marijuana use among adolescents has remained remarkably steady over the past 20 years despite substantial changes in its legality across the United States during this period.”
  • “The percentage of adolescents in 2018 who used marijuana in the past year was lower than the percentages in 2002 to 2004 and in 2009 to 2013, but it was similar to the percentages in 2005 to 2008 and in 2014 to 2017.”
  • “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.”

Perceived availability of marijuana among young people is falling nationwide

Rates of problematic cannabis use by young people has declined for the better part of the past two decades.

The enactment of medical cannabis laws is not associated with any causal upticks in youth marijuana use

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