Legal Marijuana in Colorado Hasn’t Changed Youth Use

This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary since Colorado took the brave step to legalize marijuana. As the Colorado cannabis market has matured and flourished over the past decade, we know for sure: He works and prospers.

Kevin Gallagher

Adults and patients have access to safe products, incarceration rates for cannabis-related crimes have declined, hundreds of millions of dollars have been donated to education and other state programs, and the Colorado gave the United States and other countries a successful model to build on.

Turns out the prohibitionists were wrong.

What is most important is that one study after another shows how the legalization of cannabis has led to a decline in use among young people. The Colorado Department of Public Safety’s latest Healthy Kids Survey, considered the best measure of substance use among Colorado youth, showed no increase in the percentage of Colorado children who report using marijuana. in the previous 30 days. It shows that in 2019, reported marijuana use rates for Colorado children were not statistically different from national rates.

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A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found “no significant association between passing (recreational marijuana laws)…and marijuana use among high school students.”

Perhaps more importantly, youth cannabis use has declined even as more states have passed legalization laws, according to a recent federally funded “Monitoring the Future” study of more than 32,000 students.

All the predictions about cannabis legalization from opponents have simply not come to pass. As the studies above show, overall trends across Colorado and the United States show that the establishment of regulated cannabis patterns is actually leading to a decline in marijuana use among teens. This is a conclusion that directly contradicts the claims of the prohibitionists.

This year, the industry has created educational materials on responsible drinking and proper dosage. The industry is committed to further educating consumers and lawmakers, debunking myths, and ensuring that marijuana tax dollars continue to fund meaningful educational and health programs.

At the same time, when the General Assembly creates laws that restrict access, medical patients and responsible consumers suffer the most. One-sided state-commissioned studies could potentially put patients and adult consumers at risk of further losing access to products. Citizens and lawmakers must be vigilant to ensure future policies are evidence-based and better protect our people from outside interests that value their bottom line over social justice and the overall well-being of our great state. .

Additionally, the General Assembly has presented proposals to cap THC levels. We know from experience that if products are not available on the legal market, an illicit market where unregulated products can be sold will fill the void.

Think of alcohol. If the foolproof options aren’t available and people want it, someone will find a way to do it, which won’t be as secure.

The same goes for cannabis. If it becomes watered down, less potent, or even overtaxed, it will easily go underground, where enforcement and tracking becomes impossible.

There are over 450 pages of national regulations with which the industry must comply. We have shown industry to be a willing partner with the Marijuana Enforcement Division to create the safest market possible, while maintaining patient and consumer access.

After 10 years of legalization, let’s celebrate what we’ve created together as a model for what other states can replicate.


Kevin Gallagher, from Westminster, is the chief executive of the Cannabis Manufacturers Association of Colorado.


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