Teenager smoking a cannabis joint

US Government confirms cannabis legalisation has not lead to cannabis addiction in teens

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A report from the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that the legalisation of cannabis has not led to an increase in the number of teenagers with cannabis addictions. 

The recreational use of cannabis has now been legalised in 15 US states, while the medical use of cannabis is legal in 35 states. National legislation or decriminalisation is also possible, but not guaranteed once Joe Biden takes office.

Historically, critics of progressive cannabis laws have always assumed legalising the drug would result in teenagers becoming cannabis-addicted zombies – but this is not supported by most research. 

The report from the CDC is one example. Released last week, the report measures the number of teenagers who were treated for cannabis use disorder between 2008 and 2017. During that time, recreational cannabis was legal in 7 states.

Teenage cannabis use in the USA
Teenage cannabis use in the USA

The study included people aged 12 to 17 and sourced its data directly from federal treatment records. From 2008 to 2017, the number of teenagers treated for cannabis addiction dropped dramatically.

To give you an idea of how big this decrease was in practise, the study tells us the mean number of admissions per 10,000 teenagers. In 2008, 60 out of 10,000 teenagers were treated for cannabis addiction. By 2017, this number had dropped to 31 out of every 10,000 – which is nearly a 50% decrease.

The study also found that the drop in addiction rates was highest in states with legal recreational cannabis. Out of the eight states with the highest drop in admissions, seven had legalised cannabis (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts).

In the final section of the report, Temple University’s Dr. Jeremy Mennis wrote:

This research suggests that a precipitous national decline in adolescent treatment admissions, particularly in states legalizing recreational marijuana use, is occurring.

The CDC’s data is also consistent with data from government authority Health Canada. Since cannabis was legalised in 2018, the rate of cannabis use among Canadian teenagers has decreased significantly. Before legalisation, 19.8% of teenagers 15 to 17 had used cannabis. In 2020, this number has decreased to 10.4% 

While the number of people who have tried cannabis increased by 2%, there was no change in the percentage of Candians who use the drug daily –  meaning people are trying cannabis like kombucha. 

Statistics from the Australian government show 41% of the Aussies currently support the recreational legalisation of cannabis. 

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