Study: Biggest Fear Of Legal Marijuana Critics Goes Up In Smoke

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Marijuana use among Colorado teens is defying some of the worst warnings of legalization critics.

A biannual poll of 17,000 high school students by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows marijuana use dropped from 22 percent in 2011 to 21.2 percent in 2015.

The percentage of teens using marijuana in Colorado is below the national average of 21.7 percent. Colorado’s first recreational marijuana shops opened in 2014. (RELATED: Myth Of Big Marijuana: Why Corporations Aren’t Taking Over The Weed Business)

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization, with four of five high school students continuing to say they don’t use marijuana, even occasionally,” the department said in a statement.

Washington, Oregon and Alaska have also legalized recreational marijuana, with six more states considering similar policies.

“These statistics clearly debunk the theory that making marijuana legal for adults will result in more teen use,” Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project told Reuters.

Marijuana critics, however, see worrying signs in some of the figures. Diane Carlson of SMART Colorado, which campaigns to shield children from marijuana, said the fact that 48 percent of the students polled didn’t view regular marijuana use as a risky behavior was “deeply concerning.”

The survey follows research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry showing the number of teens using and suffering from problems related to marijuana is falling at the same time more states are legalizing marijuana. (RELATED: Study: Teen Marijuana Use And Crime Collapses As States Legalize)

The study of more than 216,000 teens from across the country indicated a substantial fall in problems related to marijuana use. The research shows teen marijuana use dropped 10 percent between 2002 and 2013 and teens suffering from marijuana dependency or having trouble at school and in relationships plummeted by 24 percent over this period.

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