Many opponents of legal cannabis in North America are worried that legalization would lead to easier access and use for teens. A recent study of the state of Washington is showing that this has not been the case so far. “Adolescents’ Ease of Access to Marijuana Before and After Legalization of Marijuana in Washington State” is the name of the study was presented at a conference in Baltimore this week.
The study’s senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, commented on the results saying that “It is both surprising and reassuring that teens didn’t perceive that marijuana was easier to access after it was legalized for recreational use by adults. It was interesting and somewhat concerning, though, that while teens responded that it was harder to access cigarettes, alcohol, and psychoactive drugs abuse in 2014 compared to 4 years earlier, they didn’t report increased difficulty in obtaining marijuana during that same time period.”
There was basically no change in the percentage of teens who said obtaining cannabis was easy, when comparing 2010 numbers to ones in 2014. Natalie Colaneri, principal investigator of the study, hopes that the states will do more to keep cannabis out of the hands of teenagers. “Given the detrimental health effects associated with adolescent marijuana use, it is important that states that choose to legalize marijuana take steps to minimize use by teens. States should specifically implement measures that make it more difficult for teens to access marijuana in the first place,” Colaneri said.