Groundhog Day: Another Study Shows Legalization Decreases Youth Use

By David Jenison on October 11, 2017

Let's be real. Does anyone think Trump's little elf in the Justice Department actually reads clinical studies on cannabis? It's unlikely at best, and what little he does read probably involves outdated harm studies funded by organizations predisposed to support the status quo on prohibition. The Attorney General, like so many Drug War zealots, rarely defends his anti-cannabis position with updated clinical findings, but rather, he leans on the argument that America should maintain prohibition to protect the children. 

Guess what? If protecting the children really is the motivation, legalization is the answer. 

How so? According to countless studies Jeff Sessions didn't read, youth access to cannabis decreased in states that voted for legalization. PRØHBTD highlighted a few such studies in 2015 and 2016 (and several others exist), and here's yet another from 2017.

"Trends in Perceived Access to Marijuana Among Adolescents in the United States: 2002–2015," published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, reported a 27 percent overall reduction in the number of adolescents (age 12 to 17) who said cannabis would be "very easy" to acquire. That percentage rocketed to 42 percent for youth age 12 to 14. There were two outliers—teen cigarette smokers and juvenile criminal offenders—but the reduction otherwise remained consistent "among youth in all sociodemographic subgroups," including age, ethnicity, gender and economic status. In fact, the reduction pattern also included—rather surprisingly— youth who reported alcohol and cannabis use, carry handguns and have a history of physical violence. 

The study concluded, "Despite the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in some states, our findings suggest that, with the notable exception of adolescent tobacco users and juvenile offenders, perceptions that marijuana would be very easy to obtain are on the decline among American youth."

Ready for a twist? 

"Parental Incarceration and Children: A Review of Recent Findings," a new 20-page report published by the organization Children of Incarcerated Caregivers, stressed that "children of incarcerated caregivers are more likely to cope with stressful circumstances using alcohol, marijuana, tobacco products, or prescription drugs." This includes "heavy alcohol and marijuana use in young adulthood," and such children are more likely to "meet the diagnostic criteria for abuse or dependence" and experience higher risk for anxiety, depression, physical aggression and disobedience. 

Now consider how many parents have been incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses as minor as possession, which surprisingly remains an obsession for many law enforcement agencies. If you're rockin' fewer teeth than a jack o' lantern, you might say that's fake news, but the sad reality is that "More people were arrested last year over pot than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery—combined." By claiming to protect the children, prohibition-driven arrests are actually driving the children to substance abuse and increasing their risk of mental health disorders. 

So... it's time to find out if these bureaucrats care more about the children than they do prohibition. 

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