Uruguay: Teen Cannabis Use Not Adversely Impacted by Adult-Use Legalization

Montevideo, Uruguay: The imposition of regulations governing the retail sale of cannabis to adults is not associated with changes in young people’s attitudes toward cannabis or their use of the plant, according to data published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

An international team of investigators from Uruguay, the United States, and Chile assessed the impact of legalization policies on youth use patterns. Uruguay initially approved legislation regulating the use of cannabis by adults in 2013, although retail sales in licensed pharmacies did not begin until 2017.

Authors found “no evidence” to indicate that legalization was associated with any impact on young people’s “cannabis use or perceived risk of use.”

They concluded, “Our findings provide some support for the thesis that Uruguay’s state regulatory approach to cannabis supply may minimize the impact of legalization on adolescent cannabis use.”

Under the law, cannabis sales are restricted to those age 18 or older who register with the state. Commercially available cannabis products may only be produced by state-licensed entities and sold at specially licensed pharmacies. THC levels are capped by regulators and government price controls ($1.30 per gram) are imposed upon flower. Limited home cultivation is also allowed in private households.

Full text of the study, “The impact of cannabis legalization in Uruguay on adolescent cannabis use,” appears in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Additional information is available in the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.”