What impact may legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon have on teen marijuana use? Recent results from an Oregon Research Institute (ORI) study indicate that the influence of legalization on youth may depend on whether they were already using at the time of legalization. Following legalization of recreational marijuana, no significant changes in the numbers of youth who used marijuana occurred, yet increases in the frequency of use by youth who were already using marijuana were found. For teenagers who had tried marijuana by 8th grade, the frequency of use during the following year increased 26% more for those who were in 9th grade after marijuana was legalized compared to those who were in 9th grade prior to legalization. The research results are published online in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
“When making policy decisions about marijuana, it is important to consider how those policies can effect teenagers. Although legalization of recreational marijuana prohibits use in those under 21, changes in youth attitudes toward marijuana, age of initiation, and frequency of use may occur,” said Julie C. Rusby, Ph.D., principal investigator of the research.