It is a statistic that flies in the face of everything that legalization opponents thought. Despite dire prognostications to the contrary, a new survey by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reveals that high school-age use of marijuana has dropped from 22% to 20% since pot was legalized there.
The thing that makes this even more stunning is that the attitudes of these kids about pot has changed, as well. They actually have stopped believing the “pot is dangerous” messages they hear from anti-pot voices in the media. Formerly, 58% of high-schoolers “perceived a moderate or great risk from marijuana use”. Now, that number is down to 54%.
So, to be clear, fewer students believe that pot is dangerous. But, nonetheless, fewer students are using it.
The threat that legalizing pot would bring about a rise in use among youth is the pot debate equivalent of “we’ll find WMDs in Iraq and be out of there fast” prediction. It just isn’t materializing. It's almost as confusing as the fact that traffic fatalities are also down since legalization.
Still, some are doubling down on the worry, despite evidence to the contrary.
"If we want Colorado to be the healthiest state in the nation, then we need to make sure our youngest citizens understand the risks of using potentially harmful substances," said Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Later this month, we'll launch a youth prevention campaign that encourages kids not to risk damaging their growing brains by experimenting with marijuana."
So, even though use is down, they worry that use will go up. This is more of the same logic that was floating around Congress when Colorado first made its decision to legalize.
“As marijuana is de-stigmatized, use goes up, and it finds its way into the homes and candy and cookies and baked goods, and once it gets there, it finds its way into the brains of teens," Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said back then. "Marijuana will also become more pervasive as states continue to embrace permissible laws on medical marijuana and the recreational use of marijuana, and kids and youth will have easier access to the dangerous, addictive drug."
Perhaps these anti-pot folks should stop and think about the fact that these kids aren’t stupid. They don’t buy the “pot is dangerous” argument anymore because they know who is selling it: pharmaceutical companies. Like Chris Rock said, “They don’t want you to use your drugs; they want you to use their drugs.”
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