Does legalizing pot spur kids to try it?
In two states studied, teens downplayed the harm of marijuana after recreational pot was legalized. In one state, the study also found an increase in pot use among eighth- and 10th-graders. (iStock) States that legalize recreational marijuana use may be sending a message to teens that pot is harmless, a new study suggests. Fewer teenagers in Washington and Colorado saw marijuana as risky to their health following approval of recreational use by voters in those states, researchers report. Washington also saw an increase in recreational pot use among eighth- and 10th-graders following legalization there. "With legalization, marijuana use became less stigmatized and adolescents were more likely to use it," said study author Magdalena Cerda. She is an epidemiologist with the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. However, the study did not prove that legalizing recreational use of marijuana caused teens to find it less harmful or be more likely to try it. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana use. Six states — Alaska, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — along with Washington, D.C., have since followed suit. Cerda and her colleagues examined federal survey data to determine whether legalization had any impact on marijuana use and perceptions of risk among eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in Washington and Colorado. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse funds the annual survey, which questions teenagers about their behaviors, attitudes and values. Nearly 254,000 Colorado and Washington state students participated in the survey during the period in question. Perceptions of marijuana's harmfulness decreased dramatically in...Read the full article here