Nora Volkow is stumped

Regulated markets for adults have not made it easier for younger people to get marijuana. U.S. News

The latest Monitoring the Future survey is out.

Actual use of the drug dropped among 8th grade students and stagnated among 12th graders. Reported annual use continued a five-year slide among 10th grade students, though the year-to-year change was not statistically significant.

“I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which commissions the annual survey.

“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,” she says.

“We’re seeing that more people in the U.S. except for teenagers are taking it,” Volkow says. “The rates of increases are highest among young adults 18-24, so one would expect that would translate to the adolescents, but apparently it has not.”

As Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority notes:

“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. 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.”

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