The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates marijuana use among some of America’s youngest consumers has declined to its lowest rate in nearly 15 years.
On Thursday, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published their annual report indicating youthful marijuana consumption trended downward nationally in 2016 – at least for those between the ages of 12 and 17.
Despite legalization, consumption drops for some and holds steady for others
Marijuana use among 12 to 17-year-olds dropped to 6.5 percent during 2016, representing a 0.5 percent decline from the previous year and a 1.7 percent decrease in marijuana use since 2002. Great news for advocates of legalization – it represents a slight problem for the prohibitionist’s dogma. Rather than increasing teenage use, the survey indicates a noteworthy decline in youthful consumption since 2014.
A historic year for Marijuana reform, 2014 was the year Washington State and Colorado became the first states to roll out their regulated retail sales of recreational marijuana.
Marijuana use by age group
It would seem the perils of marijuana legalization and increased teenage use have been systematically overstated: the current evidence from Washington’s legalization efforts also indicates that marijuana consumption by teenagers has declined rather than surged after retail sales began. Example: the Washington State Institute for Public policy released a September 2017 report indicating teen use of marijuana did not spike in Washington after marijuana was legalized.
Few dispute that legalizing marijuana would reduce incarceration rates, generate much-needed revenue, and potentially mitigate America’s opioid epidemic. But there are other reasons to end the medicinal plant’s prohibition – marijuana is a gateway to sobriety, not increased addiction. The SAMHSA survey found alcohol consumption among all age groups dwindled precipitously as marijuana use increased, providing further evidence that adults are substituting the passive use of marijuana in lieu of getting drunk.