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.

  • “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

  • “Despite legalization of the retail sale of marijuana to adults in Washington in 2012, evidence from the biennial Washington State Healthy Youth Survey indicates that the prevalence of past 30-day marijuana use among students in grades 10 and 12 began to decline that year. The decline continued in 2016 among grade 10 students and did not change significantly among grade 12 students.”
  • “In the fully adjusted models, MMLs (medical marijuana laws) were not statistically associated with either measure of marijuana use, but RMLs (recreational marijuana laws) were associated with an 8% decrease in the odds of marijuana use and a 9% decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use. … Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported … showed that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes. This latter result is consistent with … the argument that it is more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.”