In some bad news for anti-marijuana advocates, it turns out legalizing cannabis does not lead to more teens smoking weed.
A group of researchers found that teenagers in states with legalized medical marijuana use marijuana about 1.1 percent less than teenagers in states without any forms of legal cannabis. The researchers looked at data from 1999 to 2015, so they were able to compare marijuana use rates in states before and after they legalized marijuana. And their data incorporated information from more than 860,000 students, so this is definitely not a case of small sample size.
Now, 1.1 percent less teenagers using marijuana in legal states isn't a big difference. But, considering many anti-marijuana advocates claim legalization will make it easier for teens and children to use cannabis, it's definitely evidence that is useful to counter that claim.
In fact, the longer a state had legal medical marijuana, the less likely teenagers were to use cannabis. In a states that had legal medical marijuana for more than five years, teenagers used cannabis about nine percent less than in states where medical marijuana was legal for fewer than five years. And states that had legal medical marijuana for more than 10 years actually had 32 percent less teenagers using marijuana compared to states with five years or fewer.
So basically the longer states have legalized marijuana, the less likely teenagers are to use it. Sounds like a pretty good reason to legalize it then!