States with Lax Marijuana Laws Also Show Higher Marijuana “Edible” Use than Other States
[WASHINGTON, DC] – The nation’s annual school survey of drug use, Monitoring the Future (MTF), shows marijuana use among adolescents, including heavy marijuana use, remaining stubbornly high and higher than ten years ago — despite reductions across the board among other drugs. Past year and past month marijuana use among high school seniors is up versus last year, and marijuana use among almost all categories is higher than ten years ago. And students in states with lax marijuana laws are much more likely to use marijuana in candy or edible form than students in other states.
“Why would marijuana use not be falling like the use of other substances? The answer is likely marijuana commercialization and industrialization, spurred by legalization initiatives,” said Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, a former White House drug policy advisor and President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “It also might explain why six percent of high school seniors use marijuana daily. Moreover, this study does not include kids who have dropped out of school — and are thus more likely to be using drugs than the study’s sample.”
Additionally, the MTF showed differences between students in states with loose marijuana laws and students in other states. Students in lax policy states were much more likely to use marijuana, and also more likely to use edibles. Among 12th graders reporting marijuana use in the past year, 40.2 percent consumed marijuana in food in states with medical marijuana laws compared to 28.1 percent in states without such laws.
“While drug, cigarette, and alcohol use are falling almost across the board, due to decades of work and millions of taxpayer dollars, kids are turning more and more to marijuana,” said Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM’s Executive Vice President. “It’s unsurprising now that the marijuana industry — following in the footsteps of the tobacco industry — is pouring millions into marketing kid-friendly edible products like pot candy to maximize their profits.”
According to statements from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the American Psychiatric Association, marijuana use, especially among youth, should be avoided, and legalization efforts opposed.
“Medical research is very clear that marijuana is both addictive and harmful,” noted Dr. Stu Gitlow, immediate past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “One in six adolescents that use marijuana develop an addiction, and use is associated with lower IQ, lower grades, and higher dropout rates in that same population. It is therefore of significant concern that this year’s study may actually underreport marijuana use and downplay its impact.”
Meanwhile, the toll of legalized marijuana continues to climb in Colorado and Washington. For example, the AAA Foundation reported earlier this year that the percentage of fatal crashes in the state of Washington linked to drivers who had recently used marijuana more than doubled the year marijuana retail sales were authorized. Similarly, cases of marijuana poisonings are up 108% in Colorado after legalization, and up 206% among children ages 0 to 8 years old. (More data on these trends is available in SAM’s recent report on legalization in both states.)
For more information about marijuana use and its effects, see https://learnaboutsam.org.