Washington: Most Teens Not Using More Marijuana Following Legalization

Washington: Teens and Marijuana

Spokane, WA: The enactment of adult use marijuana sales in Washington state is not associated with upticks in self-reported marijuana use by most teens, according to data published in The Journal of Adolescent Health.

A team of investigators from Washington State University, the University of Massachusetts, and the Colorado School of Public Health assessed trends in teen marijuana use and employment in the years immediately prior to and immediately following the enactment of retail marijuana sales (2010 to 2016).

They reported that "marijuana use decreased significantly among working and non-working 8th and 10th graders." Marijuana use similarly declined among 12th graders who were not employed. Among 12th graders who were employed more than eleven hours per week, self-reported cannabis use increased over the study period. The study’s authors acknowledged that this latter finding was not unexpected because "the workplace may expose adolescents to peer or adult coworkers’ potentially unhealthy behaviors, including substance use." Authors further acknowledged that working youth were also more likely to have reported using cannabis prior to the passage of legalization.

Numerous prior studies have reported that changes in the legal status of cannabis are not associated with increased marijuana use or access by young people.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "Employment and marijuana use among Washington state adolescents before and after legalization of retail marijuana," appears in The Journal of Adolescent Health. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, "Marijuana Regulations and Teen Use Rates."