Marijuana Legalization May Lead to More Teen Users

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, February 27, 2014

Marijuana Legalization May Lead to More Teen Users

A new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that about 10 percent of high school students who would otherwise be at a low risk for picking up a pot-smoking habit -- which includes those who don't smoke cigarettes, students with strong religious beliefs and those with non-marijuana smoking friends -- say they would use marijuana if it was legal.

For high school seniors alone, the shift would make up a 5.6 percent absolute increase in lifetime pot use prevalence. About 45.6 percent of high school seniors admitted to smoking pot in the study, meaning that legalization would increase that number to 51.2 percent.

The data was pulled from the Monitoring the Future survey, which was a nationally-representative survey of students in the eighth, 10th and 12th grade. The students were polled from 2007 to 2011, before recreational marijuana use was legalized in Colorado and Washington following the November 2012 elections.

The effects from more high school students admitting to being okay with using pot if it was legal could extend throughout their lives, according to the study's authors.

The Partnership at reported in a 2012 study that frequent marijuana use was increasing among teens. Almost 10 percent of teens surveyed said they smoked pot at least 20 times a month.

Source: CBS News