Teen Cannabis Use Down At A Record Low
The statistics tell us the opposite of what the prohibitionists have been hoping for
Rates of teen use have dropped to an all-time low in the past 20 years. This is significant, since the anti-legalization camp has been exploiting the concept of “teen abuse” as one of the means of supporting prohibition for a long time now. The data, based on figures from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, was just released last week.
According to the survey, just 6.5% of teens were using cannabis monthly which represents a substantial reduction from 2014 figures when stats were taken after the first recreational shops in the country were opened in Colorado and Washington. The survey says that the last time they saw teen use figures this low was back in 1994.
Adolescent cannabis use has always been controversial and rather worrisome especially for public health experts because science says that since the teen brain is still developing, using cannabis at this age can have serious side effects that can be felt later on in life. Some of the problems that teen cannabis use has been linked to include cognitive and learning problems, criminal behavior, and possibly addiction (even though cannabis is not addictive).
Many prohibitionists have predicted that legalization and relaxing restrictions would lead to increased teen drug use, and may also end up sending the wrong message to adolescents. But legalization supporters have always said that the best way to prevent teens from using and abusing cannabis is to legalize it.
Not surprisingly, the same survey reveals that adult cannabis use is on the rise. In 2016, 20.8% of Americans aged 18-25 used used cannabis at least once a month, which is the highest it’s ever been since 1985. For adults aged 26-34, 14.5% admitted to using cannabis monthly in the same year, also the most since 1985. The statistics for adult cannabis consumption has grown steadily in the last few decades even before medical and recreational cannabis were legalized. Although the National Survey on Drug Use and Health didn’t provide data on older groups, studies from other sources have confirmed that cannabis use is actually growing the fastest among older and middle-aged adults. In fact, in legal states, access to medical cannabis has delayed retirement and kept seniors working for longer; clearly an indication of how the plant has been supportive especially to the health of this vulnerable age group.
Interestingly, cannabis use has increased in adults but their booze consumption also reduced last month based on the survey. Last year, 55% of adults aged 18 and above drank alcohol at least once a month compared to the 56% in 2015. Although the difference is small, the reduction in alcohol use is significant because it suggests that adults may actually be using cannabis as a replacement for booze. Alcohol consumption has been linked to several fatal cancers, while cannabis can treat it; yet it’s easier than stealing candy from a kid to get a bottle of your preferred booze these days than to get cannabis which is a serious problem especially for those who live in states that have no MMJ program in place yet. Additionally, alcohol has been pegged to be 114 times more lethal than cannabis, with an estimated 80,000 people losing their lives to booze-related illnesses or accidents while almost half of violent crimes are committed under the influence of booze. Studies are consistent in supporting the claim that alcohol continues to be more dangerous for individuals as well as society in a whole compared to cannabis use. After all, we can’t deny that alcohol is responsible for claiming up to 3 million deaths around the world yearly, but a 100% safe and natural herb that grows from the ground has been proven to cure hundreds of ailments from anxiety to cancer.
Teen, adult, or senior use of cannabis; at the end of the day legalization doesn’t really play a role. No matter what, it still remains illegal to purchase cannabis anywhere in the United States if you’re below 21 years old.
Last but not the least, an August 2017 poll says that more than 60% of Americans think cannabis should be legalized.