Teens Are Using Less Marijuana After Legalization

Teens Are Using Less Marijuana After Legalization

Only one group of youths is lighting up more often.

There were many fears that legalizing marijuana would bring on board droves of new users. Would teenagers be likely to light up? Many people would likely have guessed yes, if asked.

But in areas of the country that have legalized the drug for recreational use at the state level, a different story has played out.

A study done at Washington State University has found that only one group of teens has upped their use after retail sales were legalized. High school seniors who work 11 or more hours per week are using more.

In other groups, usage has dropped after legalization. Marijuana use is said to have decreased significantly among 8th and 10th graders, and among 12th graders who don’t work.

Washington was one of the first states to approve the legal sale of marijuana, with recreational cannabis stores opening in 2014.

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“Kids who work more often use substances, that’s not a shock,” said lead author WSU College of Nursing Assistant Professor Janessa Graves. Other studies have shown the same results, she says.

Part of this is because kids who work are exposed to adults who aren’t their coaches or teachers at a younger age, and through this, exposed to adult habits. Another reason is that teens in this category could have more disposable income.

What can you do as a parent?

“I would say this for any parent of working kids,” says Graves. “It’s important to know the quality of management and supervision at your child’s job. Be thoughtful about the quality of a particular workplace.”

The research on marijuana use and employment appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Photo credit: Craig F Scott/Shutterstock

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