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How Has Teen Perception, Use Of Marijuana Changed After Cannabis Was Legalized For Recreational Use?

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After the legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington, the perceived harmfulness seems to have decreased and leisure use of the drug is observed to have increased in the adolescent population of Washington.

Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana was legally recognized for recreational use for people over 18 years in 2012 in a few states including Colorado and Washington. Ever since legalization the impact of the move is a huge subject of debate till date.

A new study reveals that while there is a potential change in the perceived harmfulness of Marijuana, there is also an increase in the usage of the drug for recreational purposes among adolescents in Washington after legalization. On the other hand, there's no significant change in the usage and perceived harmfulness of the drug among teen population in the state of Colorado.

Data Of Secondary Schools Monitored

Dr. Magdalena Cerdá of the University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, and other co-authors studied the link between the legalization recreational marijuana for people over 18 years in the two states and the difference in perception of harmfulness and self-reported adolescent drug use prior to and post its legalization.

The researchers analyzed the data of 253,902 youngsters studying in eighth, 10th, and 12th grades between 2010 and 2015 from a survey called "Monitoring the Future," which is an annual and nationwide analysis of students going to secondary schools in the contiguous United States.

The difference-in-difference estimates evaluated the variation in perceived harmfulness of marijuana usage. Researchers also compared the data related to marijuana usage in the states of Colorado and Washington before the legalization of recreational marijuana (2010 to 2012) with data after legalization (2013 to 2015). It was also compared to the contemporaneous trends in other states that did not permit the use of marijuana for recreation during this period.

Perceived Harmfulness Of Marijuana Decreased In Adolescents After Legalization

Legalization of marijuana changed its perceived harmfulness in the adolescent population. The research concluded that perceived harmfulness of marijuana decreased while its use among the eighth and 10th-grade students in Washington increased. On the other hand, Colorado did not show any degree of difference in the perceived harmfulness of the drug or the drug usage among the youngsters after legalization.

The research stated that more data will be required to rightly answer the question that whether marijuana legalization for recreational purposes among adults also influences adolescent usage.

"A cautious interpretation of the findings suggests investment in evidence-based adolescent substance use prevention programs in any additional states that may legalize recreational marijuana use," concluded the research.

The study is published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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