Monday, July 2, 2012

Youth access to marijuana would increase if legalized

A pro-marijuana legalization billboard in Colorado shows a boy with his father who is saying, “Please check my son’s ID”.  The message is that if marijuana is sold in stores youth access to it will decrease because stores won’t sell to minors.  While in theory this sounds great, it’s just not true.  If we treat marijuana like alcohol, youth access will increase.  Most kids who drink do not get alcohol by buying it at a store and the same would be true for marijuana.  

Alcohol is easy for teens to get because older friends and siblings can buy it for them legally.  The top three ways teenagers get alcohol is from friends, at a party, or by giving someone money to buy it for them (Washington State Healthy Youth Survey -- HYS). If marijuana is treated like alcohol, teens will just as easily get marijuana as they get alcohol from older friends and siblings.  Though teenagers currently say that marijuana is as easy to get as alcohol, they use legal and regulated alcohol at much higher rates than they use marijuana (HYS).

Like alcohol, youth will get marijuana at home.  Washington tenth graders report that they are more likely to get alcohol from home with or without parents’ permission than from buying it from store (HYS). With the demise of legal sanctions against use, some parents may choose to begin using marijuana, acting as an important new source of exposure for their adolescents.  Parental use of marijuana in the last year is associated with their adolescent’s use during the same period (Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth, American Academy of Pediatrics).

Find out more at WASAVP's Marijuana Education Toolkit.

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