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As pot legalization increases, teen pot use is declining

We have previously written about the changing approach to drug policy in various parts of the United States. Although marijuana is illegal here in Louisiana for any and all purposes, a significant number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use. At least two states have legalized recreational use, and a number of jurisdictions around the country have decriminalized the possession of certain amounts of marijuana.

Has the sky fallen? Have other types of crime skyrocketed? Has America doomed the future of its young people? According to a major government study, the answer is no. In fact, marijuana use among teenagers actually seems to have declined.

In December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse published the results of its annual survey, which is called "Monitoring the Future." As many as 50,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12 are surveyed about their drug use, including use of alcohol and cigarettes. The results show that between 2013 and 2014, overall marijuana use in these three groups dropped from 26 percent to 24 percent.

Among high school seniors, those who self-reported daily marijuana use dropped from 6.5 percent to 5.8 percent. Younger students reported that marijuana is actually harder to come by than it was in the past.

Notice that this survey does not measure drug arrests or convictions. Rather, it measures use. Some believe that the legalization efforts have made it easier for parents and students to have honest discussions about marijuana use, and more teens are choosing to abstain. Approximately 56 percent of teens surveyed said that they wouldn't try pot even if it became legal for adults in their state.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, close to 19,000 people are arrested for drug offenses in Louisiana each year. It's unclear how many of these arrests are related to marijuana, but it’s a safe bet that the number is significant. What positive changes could we enact if our tax and law enforcement resources were redirected to more pressing matters?

Source: The Drug Policy Alliance, "Teen Marijuana Use Declines As Country Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization," Dec. 16, 2014

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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