Most opponents of cannabis reform had one argument against pro-cannabis legislation: passing state-level recreational cannabis bills would inevitably lead to increased use among the youth. They argued that marijuana was a gateway drug and that by making the controversial plant more accessible, states would see their youth use marijuana and other “hard drugs” at much higher rates. However, most studies have found the situation on the ground to be entirely different, with rates of youth use in states with recreational cannabis markets remaining the same and, in some cases, even going down.
A recent federal report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (“NCES”) corroborates what previous studies have concluded. Marijuana legalization at the state level has not led to increased cannabis use among the country’s youth. To arrive at this conclusion, NCES analyzed youth surveys of high school students that were conducted from 2009, long before any state had launched recreational cannabis sales, to 2019. The report found that among the percentage of teenagers…
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