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  • Christopher Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Does Legalization Cause an Increase in Cannabis Use Among Youth?

We are willing to bet good money that no one in the legal cannabis industry is in favor of selling pot in any form to kids under 21 for recreational purposes. (Same bet that drug dealers in Prohibition states has no such code).

We are willing to bet even more good money that the results of surveys given in states where cannabis is illegal are skewed by kids lying about using cannabis; and that when the state legalizes, numbers of admitted users jump NOT because the actual number jumped, but because more people now feel free to admit it.

In illegal states, does anyone believe kids freely admit cannabis use (or use of anything else) to a "survey-taker". We hear kids these days are smarter than we were, so naturally their narc-meters light up when adults ask questions that might lead to arrest.

One supposition is that "Now that cannabis is legal, there must be much more of it available". First of all, cannabis has been available ever since Harry Anslinger made up the word "marijhuana". And as a friend said recently, "If alcohol were as tightly regulated as cannabis, there would be no need for Mothers Against Drunk Driving."

Studies about adolescent cannabis use in legalizing states show.... nothing conclusively. It would be simple to write this article by cherry-picking all the articles that say cannabis use does not increase after legalization... and just as easy to take the opposite point of view. Here's are two examples of such data:

"Past studies have found that following legalization, marijuana use went up among 8th and 10th graders in Washington state, but not in Colorado, or among high-school seniors in either state" says Atlantic Magazine.

"California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996. Marijuana use among adolescents aged 12 to 17 was lower in 2016 than in most years from 2009 to 2014,” that survey, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reported (Forbes Magazine, quoting the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.)

Studies also show that adolescents are now more comfortable with the concept of cannabis. "Claims that marijuana has medicinal benefits create additional challenges for adolescent prevention efforts as they contrast with messages of its harmfulness," says a study written by a substance dependence doctor from Denver.

(Of course, "claims" of at least some medicinal benefits have been validated by the Food and Drug Administration, which approved Epediolex recently. And perhaps the good doctor should speak about such "claims" with the mothers of Billy Caldwell, Rylie Maedler, and Alexis Bortell, among many others...)

To the point, perhaps kids these days, being smarter than we are, are using Uncle Google to discover that alcohol still kills thousands of Americans each year, cigarettes the same but in even bigger numbers, opioids were up to 65,000 last year, and even Acetaminophen (the stuff in Tylenol)can be deadly.

"Acetaminophen overdose sends as many as 78,000 Americans to the emergency room annually and results in 33,000 hospitalizations a year, federal data shows. Acetaminophen is also the nation’s leading cause of acute liver failure, according to data from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes for Health."

The kids would have read that in the Huffington Post, which was quoting data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

And yet the number of people to die from overdosing on cannabis - throughout the entire 10,000 year history of its use - remains at 0.

With statistics like that, when asked "Does Legalization Cause an Increase in Cannabis Use?", one would hope the answer would be yes.

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