There were a lot of dissenting voices when Colorado and Washington began the great legalization experiment. Every accusation you can think of, from how crime would skyrocket to how drug addicts would fill up the streets was lobbed at the legalization efforts.
Of course, years down the line, we have seen that these states have not become cesspools of crime and violence… if anything, their economies are booming as people flock to them to enjoy legal marijuana. With swelling budgets and shrinking jails (since possessing and smoking weed is no longer a crime), detractors cling to one of their last arguments; if marijuana is legal, then it will fall more easily into the hands of children.
Unfortunately for the naysayers, Cheat Sheet reports that isn’t true, either.
Positive Effects of Marijuana Legalization: Reduced Teen Usage
While there are always going to be teens who use marijuana, it appears that making marijuana legal actually reduces the amount of underage usage. Comparing numbers from 8th graders through high school seniors, legalization appears to have reduced overall underage marijuana use by 1.8 percent. Which is pretty noticeable, since the doomsayers were convinced every high school student would be carrying a row of blunts in their breast pockets once legalization happened.
So why the reduction? Well, one of the most popular theories is that making marijuana illegal meant that it was hard to come by. Teens who were offered marijuana knew that they might not get another chance to try it, and there was the illicit thrill of doing something you know breaks the law. With that thrill gone, and marijuana commonly available, the lure of the forbidden is no more.
There is definitely more research to be done, and as time goes on it’ll be important to keep up with these numbers.
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