Underage Marijuana Consumption Down in Colorado

There are a number of concerns about what effect legalization may have on communities in California and nationwide. Issues regarding driving under the influence, the danger of edibles, and other public health issues have already been raised by opponents of legalization. One consequence of legalization that no one expected is the decline of underage consumption. According to data published by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), marijuana use among high school students has actually dropped since the drug became legal.


Colorado made the recreational use of marijuana legal at the end of 2012. Since 2001, the state has allowed medical use of marijuana with a prescription. Despite warnings from legalization opponents, the use of marijuana among high school students dropped since 2011. The survey indicated that in 2013, only 37% of students reported trying marijuana, down from 39% in 2011. Though the drop is not significant, it demonstrates a general decline in use. Our Orange County marijuana dispensary attorneys are abreast of changes in state and federal marijuana law. In addition to providing legal counsel, we are also aware of changing marijuana policies and impact on communities in California and nationwide.

While competing theories remain on the medical benefits of marijuana, there are similar studies of the potential dangers of marijuana use among youth. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, increased use of marijuana, especially among teens, has been linked to cognitive problems later on, including poor attention span and slow processing speed. The study was conducted over the last 15 years and tracked the developmental progress of teens who were using marijuana regularly. Regardless of whether supporters of marijuana agree, parents have their own reasons for wanting to keep marijuana away from teens.

Interestingly, trends in Colorado show that legalization has not led to an increase in use among the underage demographic. According to the report, the percentage of those teens who used marijuana fell from 22% to 20% after legalization. The studies indicate that despite the legalization of recreational use, including home cultivation and sharing between adult users after 2012, the policy shift does not seem to show a rise in use among teens.

Colorado has conducted its own survey, but the Center for Disease Control also collects data for its own analysis. The CDC reports also do not show a trend that indicates more underage consumption. Stats also show traffic fatalities have generally declined since recreational use became legalized. Since levels peaked in 2002, the number of fatalities has dropped by one-third. The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that fatalities were down since the same time the previous year. The short analysis is that the legalization of marijuana does not show an increase in underage use or a spike in accidents. Some argue that legalization could make the roads safer as it is an alternative to alcohol use and drunk driving. There were downward trends in both areas nationwide, but Colorado’s decrease was more pronounced.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

More Blog Entries:
Getting Started in the Medical Marijuana Industry, May 15, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
United States Marijuana Laws Influencing Other Countries, February 14, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog

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