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Marijuana Legalization didn’t lead to increased youth access in Washington State

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Opponents of marijuana legalization regularly argue that allowing for legal, adult-use marijuana will increase underage access to the herb. However, a recent study out of Washington State finally proves that argument has some fatal flaws.

Every year, Washington State conducts a “Healthy Youth Survey” which covers a variety of topics and includes questions about teenager’s ability to access drugs such as marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes in the state. Researchers compared this year’s results to previous surveys and announced their findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting.

Drumroll, please … Researchers found that there was, “virtually no change in the proportion of teens who reported it was ‘easy’ to access marijuana in 2010 (55 percent), compared to 2014 (54 percent) after the new law was enacted.”

While this may seem like great news, many critics are still unsatisfied.

Senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York explains, “It was interesting and somewhat concerning, though, that while teens responded that it was harder to access cigarettes, alcohol, and psychoactive drugs abuse in 2014 compared to 4 years earlier, they didn’t report increased difficulty in obtaining marijuana during that same time period.”

From 2010 to 2014, there was a 4 percent increase, an 11 percent increase, and a 7 percent increase in teenagers who felt it was “harder” to obtain alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs such as cocaine, respectively. These numbers show that Washington State has managed to limit youth access to all drugs, aside from marijuana. The researchers who released this study made it clear, they do not feel like there has been a drastic enough shift in limiting a youth’s ability to access marijuana.

But don’t let that comparison be a buzzkill, at the end of the day the survey study still proves that there was no increase in youth access to marijuana in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana. When it all gets boiled down, this is more great news for states considering legalizing marijuana for adult-use!


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