Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Marijuana Legalization Does Not Lead To More Teens Smoking Pot, Studies Find

In Colorado, use among high school students actually declined.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to new studies, the legalization of marijuana doesn't lead to teens using more weed. And in the case of Colorado, the amount of teen use went slightly down after voters in the state made cannabis legal.

skynesher | Getty Images

Those findings stand in direct contradiction to a popular argument that legalization would lead to the rampant use of marijuana by underage teens. Even though 15 states have now legalized recreational marijuana, it's an issue that makes some hesitate to support legalization.

But recent studies from Colorado and Washington, two states that were the first to legalize cannabis, show that both teen use and accidents involving teen drivers using cannabis did not increase in either state.

Related: Big Wins For Weed In The 2020 Election

Eighty-one percent of teens do not use marijuana.

The numbers proved decisive in both states. The Colorado study involved a survey of 56,000 kids from 190 randomly selected middle schools and high schools. Researchers then separated the data for high school students.

Some of the findings for the high school students included the following.

  • Four out of five respondents do not use marijuana (about 81 percent)
  • Although only 19 percent of their peers use cannabis, 79 percent of the respondents said they thought their peers use marijuana, showing a disconnect between accepted truth and reality
  • Regular cannabis use among high school students fell slightly after legalization, from 20 percent to 19 percent
  • A total of 74 percent either bought cannabis from someone else or had someone under 21 give it to them

None of these numbers showed a big increase from before the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2013. The survey also showed that far more students (59 percent) have tried alcohol than those who tried marijuana (35 percent).

About 78 percent smoked marijuana, while 10 percent tried edibles, 8 percent tried dabs, and 4 percent tried vaping.

Related: DC and Oregon Pass Landmark Psychedelic Initiatives

Kids in Washington say getting marijuana is no easier than before.

The Washington survey also involved thousands of high school students. For their report, Washington officials broke down the results by grade. The survey found that 7 percent of 8th graders, 18 percent of 10th graders, and 26 percent of 12th graders reported marijuana use 30 days before the survey.

About 38 percent of 12th graders said marijuana is "very easy" to get, a number similar to the number before legalization. Much like Colorado, the teens in Washington said the most frequent place they got cannabis was from someone giving it to them (often at a party) or giving someone money to buy it for them.

Overall, the rate of use among teens in Washington stayed about the same. The survey also reported that a trend toward more teens driving under the influence of marijuana had increased, but that trend started before legalization.

For the cannabis industry, the in-depth studies provide valuable information to combat concerns about legalization harming teens.

Follow on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.