“After marijuana was legalized for adults in the U.S. state of Washington, younger teens there perceived it to be less harmful and reported using it more, a new study found.
States should consider developing evidence-based prevention programs aimed at adolescents before they legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the researchers said today in JAMA Pediatrics.
“Across the country there has been a decreased perception of risk and an increase in marijuana use among adolescents,” lead author Magdalena Cerda, of the University of California, Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento, told Reuters Health by email.
She noted that trying marijuana at a young age is tied to an increased risk of regular use later on. Chronic use of marijuana may be tied to negative outcomes, such as psychosis and poor financial status.
Since 1996, 28 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and Colorado and Washington state legalized it for recreational purposes in 2012.
For the new study, the researchers used data from a national survey of 253,902 teens in grades eight, 10 and 12. The survey, conducted between 2010 and 2015, included questions about how harmful adolescents perceived marijuana to be and whether they had used it within the past month”.