Some drug advocates try to argue that legalisation of marijuana will not result in an increase in use. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2018 Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the most comprehensive survey on drug use. According to the survey, 45,000 more teenagers are regularly using the drug, marijuana users are more likely to abuse opioids than non-users, and levels of marijuana use disorder continue to rise. According to the study, an average of 8,400 Americans aged 12 or older tried marijuana for the first time each day in 2018. This is an increase of 100 users per day from last year’s study. Furthermore, the majority of people in 2018 who reported first time marijuana use were between the ages of 12-25.
According to NSDUH data, in all jurisdictions with legalized recreational marijuana (Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, though only personal use and growing is legal there, and Washington), past-month drug use among youth aged 12-17 continues to sit above the national average (NSDUH, 2016-2017). Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2012, has the highest rate of first-time marijuana use among youth (ages 12-17) and young adults (ages 18-25) (NSDUH State Estimates, 2016-2017).
The percentage of youth aged 12-17 years old using marijuana is declining in states where marijuana is not “legal,” unlike in “legal” states; in 2016/2017, the rate of past month 12-17-year-old marijuana use in “legal” states was 7.7%, versus 6.2% in non-legal states.1 (NSDUH State Reports 2016-2017). [Figure 2] The national rate of 18-to-25-year-old past month marijuana use is 21.5%. The rate for “legal” states, however, is much higher — 29.2%. The rate in non-legal states is close to the national average, standing at 20.8% (NSDUH, 2016-2017). Additionally, one recent study showed that longer duration of legalization and higher dispensary density was associated with increased use of vaping and edibles by 14-18-year-olds (Borodovsky, et al., 2017). Source: SAM
Often overlooked, the percentage of young adults (18-25-year-olds) reporting past-month marijuana use increased between 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 at a higher rate in “legal” states versus non-legal ones (NSDUH, 2016-2017). The national rate of 18-to-25-year-old past month marijuana use is 21.5%, while the rate for “legal” states is much higher – 29.2%. The rate in non-legal states is close to the national average, standing at 20.8% (NSDUH, 2016-2017). Source: SAM
COLORADO (Sep 2019)
- overall, past-month marijuana use for all ages 12 and older increased 58% and is 78% higher than the national average
- adult use has increased 94% (96% higher than the national average)
- college age marijuana use increased 18% and is 48% higher than the national average
- youth marijuana use decreased 14% but is still 40% higher than the national average. First time use in Colorado ranks highest in the USA for 12-17 and 18-25 age groups. There is also a concerning increase in the use of high-THC dabbing and edibles amongst young teenagers
AND EVEN IN PORTUGAL
Contrast that with Iceland – where drugs are still illegal.