U.S.: Report Expected To Show State Marijuana Laws Have Not Resulted In Increased Teen Pot Use


NIDA-sponsored 'Monitoring the Future' survey, which will be released Wednesday, underscores the benefits of regulation versus prohibition — teen alcohol and tobacco use have declined again while there has been no significant change in teen marijuana use

The Monitoring the Future national survey on drug use scheduled to be released Wednesday by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is expected to show that changes in state marijuana laws and the escalating marijuana legalization debate have not resulted in increased teen marijuana use. It also found that teen alcohol and cigarette use declined significantly while teen marijuana use remained relatively consistent, underscoring the benefits of regulation compared to prohibition.

A summary of the report released last week to members of the media indicates that marijuana use did not increase among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in 2013 despite the passage of laws making marijuana legal for adults in Colorado and Washington in November 2012. The findings undermine the argument often made by marijuana policy reform opponents that passage of such laws and heightened public debate about the benefits of legalizing marijuana will result in more teens using the substance.

"These findings should put to rest any claims that reforming marijuana laws and discussing the benefits will somehow contribute to more teens using marijuana," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "It's time for prohibition supporters to stop hiding behind teens when debating marijuana policy.”

Alcohol and cigarette use have continued to drop among teens, according to the report, and for the first time ever, teens are using cigarettes at a lower rate than marijuana.

"Regulation clearly works and prohibition has clearly failed when it comes to protecting teens," Tvert said. "Regulating alcohol and tobacco has resulted in significant decreases in use and availability among teens, and we would surely see similar results with marijuana.

"At the very least, this data should inspire NIDA and other government agencies to examine the possibility that regulating marijuana could be a more effective approach to preventing teen use," Tvert said.

(Photo: Tom Dillon, USA TODAY)