Friday, July 12, 2013

Marijuana legalization projected to increase heavy use among teens

During Wednesday's "What Works!" symposium about evidence-based marijuana prevention programs, researchers said they expect that most marijuana will be used by Washingtonians who already consume it and that they will increase their use.  Like the alcohol and tobacco industries, it is expected that 80% of the marijuana industry's profits will come from 20% of users -- heavy users.

The July 1 CESAR Fax suggests the same will happen among youth.

When high school students were asked if they would be more likely to use marijuana if it were legal, 16% of those who never used said it would be more likely that they would start using.

While a possible16% increase in teen "lifetime" marijuana use is to be taken seriously and addressed by coalitions such as Prevention WINS, a possible increase in heavy use among current users also needs to be monitored and addressed by organizations who work with youth who use drugs.  According to the authors of the study, "One possible scenario suggested by these data is that even if legalization does not drive up overall prevalence of teen marijuana use, it may lead to increased use among those already using, including teens who are already smoking marijuana almost daily."

In NE Seattle, 25% of high school sophomores reported using marijuana in the last thirty days (2012 Healthy Youth Survey).  Marijuana shops are slated to open in the spring of 2014.  By the time the 2014 Healthy Youth Survey results are in, we may start to see how a fully implemented legal marijuana marketplace affects teen marijuana use.

No comments: