It seems all those drug policy reformers were right when they told us the way to reduce teen marijuana use was public education rather than a law enforcement response.
The proportion of adolescents reporting marijuana use has decreased since 2002, and more younger adolescents report strong disapproval of marijuana use initiation, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.
The findings could provide guidance to policymakers and educators who are focused on marijuana use, according to the scientists involved.
The study, led by social work professor Christopher Salas-Wright and published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, examined the perceptions and use of marijuana among youths in the United States between 2002 and 2013.
Changes were particularly marked among younger adolescents (ages 12-14), as study findings point to a 25 percent decline — from 6 percent in 2002 to 4.5 percent in 2013 — in the relative proportion of youths reporting marijuana use in the previous 12 months, and an increase from 74 percent to 79 percent reporting strong disapproval of marijuana use initiation.
“Our results may suggest that recent changes in public policy, including the decriminalization, medicalization and legalization of marijuana in cities and states across the country, have not resulted in more use or greater approval of marijuana use among younger adolescents,” Salas-Wright said.