Washington, DC: The enactment of statewide laws regulating the adult-use cannabis market has not led to an increase in the percentage of young people experimenting with the plant, according to comments made recently by Nora Volkow, Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Speaking on a podcast hosted by Ethan Nadelmann, the former Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Volkow admitted that she had initially expressed concerns that legalization would lead to an increase in the prevalence of adolescents consuming cannabis. Thus far, however, she said, “Overall, it hasn’t.”
To date, dozens of federal and state-specific surveys have failed to identify any independent link between the legalization of cannabis for either adult-use or medical purposes and any rise in the percentage of teens using it. Moreover, data published in 2019 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics reported that the enactment of laws regulating the use of cannabis by adults is associated with declines in self-reported marijuana use by young people. Separate data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control has reported that the number of adolescents admitted to drug treatment programs for marijuana-related issues has fallen precipitously in states that have legalized and regulated the adult-use market.
During the interview, Volkow also acknowledged that legalization has been associated with “better outcomes” in various states, and that federal laws and regulations on the cannabis plant have “hindered” scientists’ ability to research it – particularly with respect to the plant’s therapeutic efficacy.
An audio archive of the Nadelmann/Volkow interview is available online. Additional information regarding cannabis and teen use patterns is available from the NORML fact sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.’