Legalizing Cannabis Makes It Harder for Teens to Consume Marijuana Says New Study
Even though we are currently in a more cannabis friendly environment, politically speaking that is, there still are some who are following a holy crusade of protecting “the children.”
I recently reported on a state representative in Colorado who wish to place a 15% cap on THC products sold within the state. This was met with obvious resistance from the industry itself yet the more important lesson to be learned is that it stems from the same vein as “what about the children?”
This argument claims that if we were to legalize cannabis or at the very least normalize the act of consuming cannabis on a social scale- we would inadvertently tell children that it is “OK” to smoke pot.
This argument, weak as it may be, continues to be a cornerstone behind the motivation of many restrictive cannabis policies. One might think that these initiatives stem from actual research, yet you would be very surprised to find out that statistically speaking the evidence simply isn’t there.
A recent meta-analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics analyzed surveys dating back until 1993 up until 2017 and found no evidence to support the notion that legalizing cannabis increases youth consumption rates. In fact, the research found the opposite to be true.
It turns out that recreational marijuana laws had a greater impact in reducing youth consumption than medical marijuana laws. Medical marijuana laws had virtually no impact on the consumption rates of youth. Recreational marijuana laws on the other hand showed an 8% decrease in the “odds of marijuana use” and a 9% decrease in the “odds of frequent marijuana use.”
One of the possible reasons for this is due to the fact that within legal establishments there is a definite age requirement that dispensaries and those operating within the cannabis industry are keen to respect. This incentive to continue to operate within the confines of the law has had a direct impact on youth consumption rates.
Additionally, the quality of the products obtained within these dispensaries are significantly higher than that found on the streets. Not to mention, higher quality product translates into a higher price point which makes cannabis no longer a commodity sustainable by the youth.
This doesn’t mean that the youth don’t have access to cannabis. There still is a thriving black market due to the price point. Yet the availability of legal alternatives has had a positive impact in diminishing the size of the black market, thereby reducing accessibility by the youth.
A better approach to drug policy?
It is important to protect our children because they are after all – the future. However, these children also need to live in this future that is forged by our decisions today. Therefore, the restrictions that we place on ourselves out of fear become the cages that we leave for our children when we are gone.
This is why it is important for us to make sure whether we value individual freedom or whether we embrace a situation where our choices are dependent on what “the state” deems is OK or not. To put this in another way, do we want other people dictating what we can and cannot put into our bodies as consenting adults.
After all, children grow up to become adults and we need to ask ourselves whether we would like our children to have the Liberty to make choices for themselves.
And so, when it comes to shaping drug policy that will affect millions of adults, we need to protect our children. Yet we protect our children by educating them. We protect our children by setting the example. For nearly 50 years we have tried to ignore a reality that simply will not go away.
Drugs exist, and people use these drugs for medical, spiritual, and recreational purposes. We live in a world where we claim to value individual freedom and expression. Rightfully we challenge ideas that uses difference as a means of division.
Yet when it comes to drugs, we are comfortable with the idea that the government has some sort of magical right to tell you what you can and cannot put into your body. We do not cancel the government over the gross violations of individual Liberty.
Irrespective of whether or not cannabis may be detrimental to some. Irrespective whether some youth may get their hands on the substance, you cannot live in a society that neglects the freedoms of adults to protect hypothetical children from hypothetical situations.
If one genuinely cares about the children, you prepare them fully for the ills of this world. You teach them how to manage their emotions, how do you think critically and make educated decisions that benefit their wellbeing. You show them how to take calculated risks and give them all the tools available in order to make something worthwhile of their time on this planet.