This graph shows that adolescents (ages 12-17) in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use have considerably higher rates of past-month marijuana use than teens in states that haven’t legalized “medical” pot. Alabama has the lowest rate—5%, while Rhode Island has the highest—13%.
A graph of past-month use among young adults (ages 18-25) would look almost the same except the numbers are higher. Utah has the lowest rate among young adults—11%, while Rhode Island has the highest—30%, or nearly one-third of the state’s young adults!
The adolescent graph appears on page 11 of the newly released Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’s (HIDTA) publication, titled The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 3.
Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana at the end of 2012, but neither state allowed recreational sales until 2014. The data about adolescent use are from 2013, one year before full legalization was implemented in either state. Thus, the levels of use in this graph pertain to legal “medical” pot but not to legal “recreational” pot.
What will adolescent marijuana use look like in Colorado in 2014? It will almost certainly be higher. Why? By the end of 2014, Colorado had 2,233 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational marijuana stores, growing facilities, and infused products (edibles) producers, making and selling pot in various forms throughout the state.
By the end of 2014, Colorado had licensed a total of 827 pot shops selling “medical” or “recreational” marijuana, double the number of Starbucks (405) and nearly quadruple the number of McDonald’s (227) in the state.