One major consideration during a legalization campaign is the public health concern that more children could find cannabis easier to access. That doesn’t appear to be happening.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse released the 2015 Monitoring the Future this week. The national federal survey on drug use and views among middle- and high-schoolers found that, despite the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use in states from coast-to-coast, cannabis use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders remained steady.
At the same time, fewer kids think cannabis is particularly harmful: the number of teenagers who perceived regular cannabis use as risky declined markedly. That could be because of legalization campaigns that compare cannabis to alcohol, because of national conversations about cannabis among presidential candidates, or because of more lighthearted cannabis references in popular culture and media. Whatever the reason, kids don’t think cannabis is as risky today as they did years ago.
Though, while the teens may not feel this behavior is as risky as they used to, roughly the same amount disapprove of regular cannabis consumption.
Interestingly, these graphs indicate that disapproval decreases with age, and use increases. 12th graders have the highest use, lowest rates of disapproval and perceived risk, while 8th graders have the lowest use, and the highest rates of disapproval and perceived risk.