California Study Proves Once Again That Legal Weed for Adults Means Less Weed for Kids

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An in-depth survey of California’s kids has once again reaffirmed that youth cannabis use goes down when adult cannabis use is legalized. For today’s teens, it seems that weed going mainstream is like seeing their dad try to Whip & Nae Nae.

The California Healthy Kids Survey is a non-partisan effort held every two years and is funded by the California Dept. of Healthcare Services in conjunction with the California Department of Education. Between 2015-2017 the group surveyed 45,264 7th graders, 9th graders, and 11th graders on topics covering “school Climate, substance use, and student well-being”.

Interestingly, this 2-year bracket fell on either side of California’s passage of Prop64 in 2016, which legalized the adult-use of cannabis for residents ages 21 and up.

The results that were published just this week are certainly no surprise to those who have paid attention to states like Colorado and Washington, but they are remarkable nonetheless:

  • Cannabis use by 7th graders fell 47% from 2013 to 2017
  • Cannabis use by 9th graders fell by 25% during the survey period
  • Cannabis use by 11th graders fell by 16% during the survey period
  • Repeated cannabis use within the past 30 days fell across all age groups

The conclusion: “The declines in substance use are striking.”

The report goes on to say, “Current results suggest that two factors may help to explain these declines: (1) increases in parental, peer, and, to a lesser extent, personal disapproval; and (2) declines in the percentage of students reporting it was very easy to get alcohol and marijuana.”

Well, #1 seems like bullshit. Adult use of cannabis is up in California and nationwide. It is being shown in more and more mainstream tv shows and movies and has been a staple of the music culture for decades. It’s not anyone’s “disapproval” that is keeping kids away from weed.

The second theory is more realistic. As cannabis critics and prohibitionists crap their cages with warnings that legalizing weed will make it easier for kids to get their hands on it, the empirical evidence continues to prove otherwise. Legal and regulated cannabis is, in fact, harder for kids to obtain.

The numbers in the survey seem to support this notion, showing a clear and steady decline in cannabis use as you drop lower in age.

Speaking about the recent school survey, Ellen Komp the deputy director of California NORML, told Leafly.com, “These initial reports confirm that legalizing and regulating cannabis doesn’t increase youth marijuana use, but rather it has the opposite effect.”

The findings in California follow national trends that we have been witnessing for years now. Federal data collected in 2016 showed that rates of cannabis use among the nation's 12- to 17-year-olds dropped to their lowest level in more than two decades.

Prop 64 appropriates millions of dollars each year in cannabis tax revenues for anti-marijuana ads aimed at our kids. It’s pretty clear that money could be better spent elsewhere – the kids, it seems, have already made up their minds.