Continued decline in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes suggests regulating marijuana could be more effective at preventing teen use than current prohibition policies
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A biennial federal government survey released Thursday dispels the myth that rolling back marijuana prohibition laws will lead to an increase in teen marijuana use.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found the rate of current marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained flat from 2011 to 2013.
During that period of time, voters in Colorado and Washington adopted and implemented laws making marijuana legal for adults; state legislatures in Rhode Island and Vermont approved and implemented laws decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana; and national polls showed significant increases in public support for ending marijuana prohibition.
“This debunks the theory that openly discussing the benefits of legalizing marijuana for adults will result in more teen use,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The public dialogue surrounding marijuana is more balanced and honest than ever before. We should be encouraging teens to take part in it, not shielding them from it.”
The YRBS results also suggest regulating marijuana could be more effective at preventing teen marijuana use than current prohibition policies. It found the usage rates of alcohol and cigarettes — products that are legal for adults and regulated — declined significantly among high school students. Rates of alcohol and cigarette use have consistently declined over the past several years, whereas the rate of marijuana use has remained relatively consistent.
“Rates of teen alcohol and cigarette use have dropped, and we didn’t have to arrest any adults for using them,” Tvert said. “We could see the same results by regulating marijuana. Regulation works.”
The YRBS results regarding current high school marijuana use are available at http://1.usa.gov/1oTHZjE
The YRBS results regarding current high school alcohol use are available at http://1.usa.gov/1irICLE
The YRBS results regarding current high school cigarette use are available at http://1.usa.gov/1nze52L