As most of us knew - cannabis isn’t dumbing down the nation’s teens

Posted on May 30 2016

Opponents of marijuana legalization warned for years that any changes would bring devastating effects on our nation’s children. The ‘won’t somebody please think of the children’ argument was used extensively, and unsurprisingly got old pretty fast.

The president of National Families in Action, an anti-drug group, warned that commercial marijuana would "literally dumb down the precious minds of generations of children." Psychiatrist Christian Thurstone, an outspoken opponent of Colorado's marijuana legalization, argued in 2010 that "the state's relaxed laws have made the drug widely available — and irresistible — to too many adolescents.”

It turns out that marijuana problems in teens have actually reduced, particularly since legalization was introduced in Colorado in 2012 a new study from Richard Grucza and colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown.

The number of American teens with marijuana-related problems — such as dependency on the drug, or troubles with family and school due to marijuana use — fell by 24 percent between 2002 and 2013. The overall number of teens using marijuana fell, too. And the teens who do use marijuana are less likely to experience problems due to the drug.

"We were surprised to see substantial declines in marijuana use and abuse," Grucza said in a statement. "Whatever is happening with these behavioural issues, it seems to be outweighing any effects of marijuana decriminalization.”

We should be wary of course, correlation doesn’t imply causation. Just because these two things happened at the same time, it doesn’t mean they are linked. What we can see though is that cannabis problems didn’t rise with the legalization of marijuana, and that is incredibly important to note. Legalising cannabis doesn’t increase use or problems in teenagers, and that is something the rest of the world will be taking a keen note of when they come to their own legalization policies.

 

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