See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Study suggests teen use declines after legalization of recreational marijuana 

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock

One of the cornerstone arguments of marijuana legalization opponents is that changing the laws will lead to higher use among young people. According to the results of a Youth Risk Behavior study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, that's just wrong. In fact, results indicated that marijuana use among high school students went down in states that have legalized.

Researchers from Montana State University and San Diego State University found that ”consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth."

Not only do they cite their research, but they underline that this result has been consistently found by other researchers. The report continued with an even more startling statement: "Moreover, the estimates reported ... showed that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes."

It's always hard to know what to believe when people from both sides start throwing around numbers and statistics. On top of that, the very emotional fear that children will be hurt clouds the discussion. Not all studies are equal or measuring the same thing. For instance, a University of Michigan study cited by the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana reports that vaping is up among youth, but that doesn't speak to overall marijuana use. SAM also claims that youth marijuana use rates are declining faster in nonlegal states than in those that have legalized. Of course, that's not the same as saying that legalization leads to higher youth use.

The information for the JAMA study came from a biannual study with 1.4 million students done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1993 to 2017. It seems to carry more weight than most. This might be one to carry in your hip pocket if you find yourself regularly arguing with prohibitionists.

The JAMA study found an 8 percent drop in students who said they used marijuana in the last 30 days, and a 9 percent drop in those reporting use in the last 10 days, in states that legalized recreational use.

It's a new era for marijuana in Michigan. Sign up for our weekly weed newsletter, delivered every Tuesday at 4:20 p.m.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 20, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation