Chart Of The Day

by Dish Staff

Marijuana Use

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has coincided with fewer teens using the drug:

About 20 percent of teens surveyed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said they had used marijuana in the past 30 days in 2013, down from 22 percent in 2011. The survey also found a decline in reported lifetime use, from 39 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2013. CDPHE said the declines were not statistically significant. But previous data suggests the drops are part of a longer-term trend that began even before Colorado voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana in 2000.

Sullum analyzes the report:

It is still possible, of course, that legal recreational sales, which began in Colorado only this year, will increase teenagers’ access to marijuana (not through direct sales but through diversion from adult buyers), which might lead to an increase in consumption. Colorado officials express a somewhat different concern. According to a press release from the health department, “Health experts worry that the normalization of marijuana use in Colorado could lead more young people to try it.” In other words, they worry that allowing adults to legally purchase marijuana for recreational use will encourage teenagers to take a more positive view of cannabis, which will make them more likely to use it. Call it the “permitted fruit” effect. Prohibitionists such as former drug czar Gil Kerlikowske raised the same complaint against medical marijuana laws, but their fears seem to have been misplaced.