Most kids still say no to pot despite looser laws

Oct 28, 2015 | Brain & Behavior, Health

Since 1996, when California became the first US state to legalize marijuana for medical use, concerns about a possible spike in the number of adolescents using the drug have arisen. Today, 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form—five of them, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and DC, effectively permit recreational use by adults 21 and older.

Despite those initial concerns, the less restrictive landscape has not led to an increase in marijuana use by adolescents, according to a new study coauthored by BU School of Public Health researchers.

The study, published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that marijuana use among American high school students is significantly lower today than it was 15 years ago. In 2013, 40.7 percent of high school students reported ever smoking marijuana, down from 47 percent in 1999. Because the rate had increased slightly since 2009, the researchers advise that “continued monitoring is necessary to observe how trends change over a longer period of time.”