Teenagers Dismay Prohibitionists by Consuming Less Cannabis

The latest survey data indicate that legalization has not driven a national surge in adolescent pot smoking.


At a Senate hearing last April, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's choice for attorney general, worried about the message that marijuana legalization sends to the youth of America. "I can't tell you how concerning it is for me, emotionally and personally, to see the possibility that we will reverse the progress that we've made," he said. "Colorado was one of the leading states that started the movement to suggest that marijuana is not dangerous. And we're going to find it, in my opinion, ripple through the entire American citizenry, and we're going to see more marijuana use." We have been hearing similar warnings from drug warriors for two decades. When teenagers see that states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana for adults, prohibitionists predicted, they will be more inclined to smoke pot. But as survey data released yesterday confirmed once again, there is no evidence that is happening.

According to the Monitoring the Future Study, marijuana use by eighth- and 10th-graders fell this year. It rose slightly among 12th-graders but was still less common than in 2012, the year Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and about the same as in 2014, when two more states and the District of Columbia joined them. The 2016 legalization campaigns, four of which were successful, likewise did not seem to spur much new interest in pot among teenagers. Nor did the legalization of medical marijuana in 28 states, starting with California in 1996. This is not the pattern you would expect to see if loosening state marijuana laws encouraged underage consumption by improving the drug's reputation among teenagers:

Monitoring the Future Study

"I don't have an explanation," said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which sponsors the survey. "This is somewhat surprising. We had predicted based on the changes in legalization [and] culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [use] would go up. But it hasn't gone up."

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  1. So have they managed to make Cocaine smell like farts yet?

  2. “Colorado was one of the leading states that started the movement to suggest that marijuana is not dangerous.”

    Is that what the legalizers are saying?

    I understand that there are some dangers, especially if you smoke/eat a lot of the stuff, but I thought the question was whether the dangers warranted the government in passing a marijuana-prohibition law.

    Unfortunately, given the involvement of leftists in the legalization campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised to see legalizers deny any risks, or overstate the benefits. Because if leftists thought it was harmful they’d go straight for banning it, like FDR did.

    1. Did I say FDR? I meant that Anslinger. He was in the Oval Office one day and saw the bills on FDR’s desk, and forged the President’s signature.

      1. (Oh, it it was Anslinger who excluded the Jewish refugees and interned the Japanese Americans, too)

        1. Anslinger’s papers are (or were) available for perusing at Penn State’s Main campus. I read them. Unbelievable scare-mongering, money-grubbing, and lies.

      2. Stop spreading fake news, Fusionist. Everybody knows that Nixon, Reagan, and G.W. Bush travelled back in time to the 1930s, and that Nixon forged FDR’s signature on the bill while Reagan and Bush pushed FDR off a cliff in his wheelchair…

    2. “I understand that there are some dangers…”

      Obviously, you understand very little. Please educate the rest of us about these “dangers”. I have 35 years of smoking experience and have never experienced a single danger, except for the possibility of arrest.

    3. Well, smoking anything obviously has its risks. But the greatest risk from the effects of the drug is probably having a panic attack.

      I think that most pro-legalization people don’t ignore the risks. Not many people are saying it’s completely safe and without drawbacks. But rather that it is quite safe compared to alcohol and most other popular recreational intoxicants.
      Then there are the people who think that it is good for everything, cures whatever wrong with you and puts you in tune with the cosmic whosimawhatsis. But I don’t think they are representative.

      The biggest problem I have with the leftist legalizer arguments is that it’s based on the fact that cannabis isn’t too bad for you rather than on individual liberty.

    4. but I thought the question was whether the dangers warranted the government in passing a marijuana-prohibition law.

      No. Even if using the drug killed people instantly and there were many people who still wanted to use it for some reason, I would still say the government shouldn’t get involved. That’s what freedom is about.

  3. Need a discrete pro for your cyber/identity issues +19283233115 or gmail darkwebssolutions

    1. You’re not just Preet-ending, are you?

  4. Oh, it’s legal now? Boring!

    /teen voice

  5. Like I’m going to trust stoner kids to accurately self-report. They’re probably too busy vaping the maryjane to fill out the survey correctly.

    1. Naw, they’re rebelling against their parents by being clean cut squares.

      1. Nah, they just have other addictions, like cell phones et al.

    2. Bute or dab. Use the correct terms.

  6. I think sessions is the most worrying of trumps appointments. With all the others, there has been something to cheer or laugh about even if they aren’t perfect.

    1. I am thinking that we might be looking at John “The Hammer” Ashcroft, part deux with a Sessions as AG.

    2. I just remind myself at least he’s out of the Senate now and whoever they replace him with can’t possibly be as big and evil a shithead.

    3. If someone told you Rand Paul was going to appoint Perry to DOE, Pruitt to EPA, and Puzder to Labor, Price to HHS, and DeVos to Education, but he had to accept Sessions as AG, would you have taken that deal? I think I would have. Drug legalization is going to fix itself in spite of the drug warriors in the next decade.

      1. With Sessions you’re talking about a known quantity. He was picked because he was an immigration hawk and will be more likely to use the laws already on the books in that area. Drug warriors are a known factor. while there is plenty of reason to not like them, there will not be much in the way of uncertainty about what to expect.

        I’m personally not convinced DeVos has changed her mind on previous support of Common Core, and I’m really not liking the Sec State pick. A lot of things about the guy cry “bad call”.

      2. +1 reality, I hope. State’s rights, uber alles.

      3. “would you have taken that deal?”

        Yes, because Rand Paul has repeatedly endorsed leaving this issue to the states and a President Paul would have pushed Congress to remove marijuana from the CSA or he’d have ordered the DEA to reschedule it then pushed Congress to approve the reschedule. Rand Paul also supports Criminal Justice Reform and would likely work with Congress on reviving a reform bill.

        These actions could’ve caused Sessions to resign in protest from a Paul Administration. I don’t see any of this happening in a Trump Administration. Donald Trump is not Rand Paul nor is he a libertarian at least on matters of civil liberties or criminal justice. The last time Trump endorsed ending the War on Drugs was in the 90s, that was a long time ago.

        Our best hope from Trump is that he continues Obama’s 2nd term marijuana policy of limited/relaxed enforcement and prevents Sessions from causing a controversy and a schism between himself and Republicans who are from states that have legalized marijuana.

        1. I could see just about anything happening in a Trump administration. He’ll tell them to jump, they’ll ask how long they have to stay in the air. He said it in the 1990s, he could say it again. Hell, for all we know, he could revive the NJ Generals football club?or even the NY Generals soccer club, which AFAIK he had nothing to do with.

          1. That’s possible. I’ll give Trump the credit that he’s a chameleon that rather easily switches positions when it benefits him. The problem here is that there is no clear benefit yet for politically endorsing legalizing recreational marijuana. Also not a single state that legalized marijuana for recreational use voted for Trump (except Alaska). Maybe if some of the Rust Belt states started legalizing marijuana for recreational use then I could see him actually favoring legalization again, so we’ll see on that note. The legal status of medical marijuana is probably safe during his administration though, thank you Florida.

            Trump at least appears to care very little about Drug Policy I think he’ll leave that area to Congress and his AG Sessions to handle. Which could be a clusterfuck or the same status quo policy with a few more raids on dispensaries. And maybe Medical Marijuana will get more legal protection from Congress (the Rohrabacher Amendment becomes permanent).

      4. Drug legalization is going to fix itself in spite of the drug warriors in the next decade.

        But it’s so particular to marijuana! Vaping nicotine or even nic-free is under attack worldwide, and in the USA the pendulum’s been swinging against narcotic pain tx in a reversal of how it’d been seeming to go for a while. Sociopolitical phenomena are hard to project.

        The main encouragement I get in the USA, other than the cannabis progress, is the chance I see that the Trump admin., because of Trump personally, will make a radical break from prohibitionist policy at the federal level. It may not have much effect on the states, though, and that’s where the action mostly is. I think there’s a hard prohibitionist core that’s had heavy political influence for a century, but that it could easily be shoved from its position, because political leaders’ support for it is thin & brittle. I could very easily see GOP leaders, seeing where their bread is buttered, switching in mid-sentence, “Of course I personally have always given full support to a policy of prohibiting…[glances at note just handed hir]…of facilitating free enterprise in narcotics.”

    4. I concur 110%, Mr. Drew. There is not one nice thing I can say about Sessions, with the exception of at least he’s old enough to die soon.

      1. Not soon enough. Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General.

  7. Losers

  8. Oh c’mon, you missed the best quote. Right after saying nobody knows for sure why teen drug use keeps steadily dropping there’s this: “Clearly our public health prevention efforts, as well as policy changes to reduce availability, are working to reduce teen drug use, especially among eighth graders,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement accompanying the study results.

    It’s almost as if the ONDCP keeps a drug-repelling rock in their back yard.

    1. I should have read this before I posted my comment below at 8:49am. They were faster than even I thought they would be.

    2. It’s a conch (Lord of the Flies reference). I was never interested in drugs until drug education began.

  9. “…the progress that we’ve made…”

    What progress is that? Details please, Jeff.

    1. Funds were increased.

  10. Legalize it in such a way that you kill the black market and of course teen drug use goes down, but they aren’t really interested in any of that, are they?

    1. Yeah, tougher when you can’t buy it at school anymore.

      1. Even tougher on the enforcers: Having no excuse to kick in doors and toss flash bangs in the middle of the night.

    1. Rolling papers please. These joints aren’t going to roll themselves. Or buy pre-rolled.

  11. I’m calling bullshit on the survey itself.

  12. Give it time, Jacob. Any day now the Prohibitionists will be citing this survey as proof that prohibition works, and that “now is not the time to abandon success!”

  13. “I don’t have an explanation,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

    I do. You’re a dumbass and your whole Institute is a waste of oxygen and money.

  14. Of course. The cool kids are vaping.

  15. marijuana use by eighth- and 10th-graders fell this year

    Don’t worry, this girl is making up for the rest of them

  16. All the claims that pot is a gateway drug, seems just like claims that riding bicycles is a gateway to the dangers of riding motorcycles. LOL

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