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February 2017

Has Marijuana Legalization Increased Marijuana Use Among US Youth?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  • 2Addictions Department, National Addiction Centre, King’s College London, London, England
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(2):116-118. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.3917

Since 2012, citizens in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults. Advocates of legalization have argued that prohibition wastes scarce law enforcement resources by selectively arresting minority users of a drug that has fewer adverse health effects than alcohol.1,2 It would be better, they argue, to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, like alcohol.3 Opponents of legalization argue that it will increase marijuana use among youth because it will make marijuana more available at a cheaper price and reduce the perceived risks of its use.4

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