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Federal study: Marijuana use among teens declines in some categories

With an incoming Attorney General strongly opposed to marijuana use and a Drug Enforcement Administration seemingly more concerned with cannabis than prescription drug abuse, there is some mixed news for legalization advocates: Overall, drug use among minors appears to be at a historic low, but as more states legalize medical marijuana use, teens report higher use of edibles.

The Monitoring the Future Study from the University of Michigan is an annual survey that tracks teen drug use among some 45,000 students between 8th and 12th grade. The survey is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The study found that among 8th-graders, marijuana use in the past month had actually dropped this year, from 6.5 percent in 2015 to 5.4 percent in 2016. Among 12th-graders, though, cannabis use remained stable, with 22.5 saying they used marijuana in the last month and 6 percent saying they used pot daily.

“I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told U.S. News. “We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up.”

Some cannabis advocates said the numbers reflected their belief that legalization would actually help keep marijuana out of younger hands.

“We’ve always argued that taking marijuana out of the unregulated criminal market and putting sales into the hands of responsible retailers would actually make it harder for young people to get,” said Tom Angell, chairman of advocacy group The Marijuana Majority. “The new data bear this out, and it’s just common sense. Under legalization, businesses have every incentive to follow the rules and make sure their customers are of legal age lest they lose their lucrative licenses. Conversely, black market dealers don’t care about the IDs in their customers wallets; they only care about the money in there.”

Still, in states where medical marijuana is legal, 12th graders who said they had used cannabis reported consuming marijuana-laced food at a rate of about 40 percent, while the number was 28 percent in states where medical pot remained against the law.

Read more at Yahoo News.