One of the popular myths keeping drug prohibition alive is the idea that there would be a drastic increase in underage drug use if legalization were to take effect. However, most available data on this subject shows that legalization does not encourage underage drug use, and may even reduce it.
According to a recent study on marijuana legalization, use among teens has actually dropped in states where the herb is no longer prohibited. The study took data from over 1 million teens from various states, over the course of 24 years.
Dr. Deborah Hasin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, explained the study in a recent interview.
“Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana. Rather, up to now, in the states that passed medical marijuana laws, adolescent marijuana use was already higher than in other states. Because early adolescent use of marijuana can lead to many long-term harmful outcomes, identifying the factors that actually play a role in adolescent use should be a high priority,” Hasin said.
The study also found that marijuana use is down among 8th graders in the states where it is now legal. 8th graders represented the youngest group in the survey and the most well-adjusted to marijuana legalization.
This is actually not the first study to come to this same conclusion. Back in 2012, another study entitled, “Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use”also found that the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of California did not increase drug use among teens.
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According to the study;
"The growing body of research that includes this study suggests that medical marijuana laws do not increase adolescent use and future decisions that states make about whether or not to enact medical marijuana laws should be at least partly guided by this evidence. The framework of using a scientific method to challenge what might be ideological beliefs must remain an important driver of future research on marijuana policy.”
Many children have houses that are filled with alcohol, yet most of them find it way easier to get drugs than to get alcohol even though alcohol is legal. Even if there were no legal age restrictions on alcohol, the societal and family norms would be just as effective at deterring children from abuse than a formal prohibition policy.
If we look overseas at countries that don’t have age restrictions on alcohol, younger people are oftentimes much more mature and informed about its effects than children in the West, and are more likely to make responsible decisions about mind altering substances. In Portugal where drugs have been decriminalized for some time now, there has been a double-digit drop in drug use by school age children.
Drug abuse cannot be curtailed with the force of the state. However, it can be drastically reduced with knowledge and societal norms. One need only look at the millions of people who quit smoking every year. This is happening in spite of tobacco's widespread availability and ease of purchase.
The drug war is an abject failure. It tears apart families, deprives non-violent people of their freedom, and legalizes state murder on a massive scale. This study is one more example of the downright insanity of the politicians and police who are still using violence to enforce their skewed version of morality on society.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.