STORIES

Prohibitionist Teens Share This Shocking View

By David Jenison on July 1, 2018

Gen Z, iGen or whatever you want to call the current generation of high schoolers… these kids have had enough of cannabis prohibition. In June 2018, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released the 2017 Monitoring the Future (MTF) report, which surveys eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students across the country. The latest MTF found that 49 percent of high school seniors support full cannabis legalization, which the report called "a historic high," while another 26 percent want to treat it as a minor infraction via decriminalization. Only 12 percent now support cannabis prohibition, which is the same percentage that believes smoking one joint can cause physical harm.   

The shocker, however, involved comparing views on alcohol and cannabis prohibition. With recreational use still illegal in most states, seniors were asked if the government should prohibit the private adult use of cannabis, and nearly 23 percent said yes. Asked the same question about prohibiting adults from getting drunk in private, more than 20 percent said yes. If we can assume the same teens support both prohibitions, it means one in five teens view both alcohol and cannabis use as dangers worthy of locking people up! Moreover, the findings suggest only 2.6 percent support cannabis prohibition but not alcohol prohibition! 

As a related aside, Gallup released findings in June 2018 that said 19 percent of adults think any alcohol consumption is morally unacceptable, compared to 31 percent for cannabis. Working under the same assumption that alcohol antagonists also dislike cannabis, only 12 percent of adults view alcohol as morally acceptable but not cannabis.

The MTF report had a few other shockers. Eighth-graders think it's more dangerous to try cannabis once or twice than to try OxyContin, Vicodin and/or Adderall. Likewise, more eighth graders disapprove of trying cannabis once than they do taking MDMA and/or LSD all the time. This suggests anti-cannabis propaganda is especially effective on young minds, but its influence wanes with age. By the time teens reach their final year of high school, disapproval rates for regular cannabis consumption (i.e., the highest level of use) is lower than all other forms and levels of substance use, except trying an alcoholic beverage once or twice. 

Nearly one in nine high school students still believes a person who smokes one joint can experience direct physical harm, but that's down from more than one in four in 1991. In other words, more and more Gen Z seniors are just saying no to bullshit anti-cannabis propaganda. 

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