According to the latest data from the federally-funded annual “Monitoring the Future” study out of the University of Michigan, teen marijuana use is either dropping or stabilizing for all younger age groups in the United States.
“Marijuana, the most widely used of the illicit drugs, dropped sharply in 2016 in use among 8th graders to 9.4 percent, or about one in every 11 indicating any use in the prior 12 months,” according to the MTF press release. “Use also declined among 10th graders as well, though not by a statistically significant amount, to 24 percent or about one in every four 10th graders. The annual prevalence of marijuana use (referring to the percentage using any marijuana in the prior 12 months) has been declining gradually among 8th graders since 2010, and more sharply among 10th graders since 2013. Among 12th graders, however, the prevalence of marijuana use is higher (36 percent) and has held steady since 2011. These periods of declining use (or in the case of 12th graders, stabilization) followed several years of increasing use by each of these age groups.”
“I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which commissions the annual survey. “We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that would go up. But it hasn’t gone up.”
So Dr. Volkow has no explanation as to why taking marijuana selling out of the black market and putting it in regulated stores that check I.D. would lead to lower teen use? I wonder how much thought she has actually given the issue; judging by her quote above, not much thought at all.
“We’ve always argued that taking marijuana out of the unregulated criminal market and putting sales into the hands of responsible retailers would actually make it harder for young people to get it,” said Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority. “The new data bear this out, and it’s just common sense. Under legalization, businesses have every incentive to follow the rules and make sure their customers are of legal age lest they lose their lucrative licenses. Conversely, black market dealers don’t care about the IDs in their customers wallets; they only care about the money in there.”
It’s amazing how much a little common sense can clear up an issue.