Teen Marijuana Use Plummets To Historic Low Despite Legalization

A man smokes marijuana during a rally for the legalization of marijuana in Mexico City, Mexico, May 7, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

The marijuana smoking rate among teens plummeted to a 20-year low in 2016, despite fears over the effects of state legalization laws on American youth.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health released Thursday shows that roughly 6.5 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 used marijuana in 2016. The significant decline happened at a time when recreational legalization laws first emerged at the state level in Colorado, Washington and Oregon, reports The Washington Post.

Critics of legalization often expressed fear that loosening laws on marijuana would adversely impact young Americans and generally “send the wrong message” to teens.

Marijuana advocates say the decline over this period proves greater access to pot for adults is not driving more kids to smoke. The smoking rate for American teens is now at the lowest level since 1994. Despite this historic drop, marijuana smoking rates are rising in the older populations.

The share of adult Americans using marijuana spiked to a 27-year highs in 2016. Roughly 20.8 percent of adults between 18 and 25 and roughly 14.5 percent of adults between 26 and 34 used marijuana last year.

Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C., where it is also legal for recreational use. Nearly 20 percent of Americans now have access to legal pot.

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