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Teen cannabis use remains flat after legalization

Prohibitionists want the reverse to be true, so badly 😥

Good morning. 

It’s hump day, everyone. Pat yourselves on the back.

In this one, we take a look at new survey data about teen cannabis use in the US, and we get into whatever’s going on in the Buckeye State. 

Buckle up. 

A minute read from JB and JR

💡What’s the big deal?

Teen use remained below pre-pandemic levels, according to a national survey

What happened: Cannabis legalization hasn’t resulted in an explosion of teen use, according to new survey data released on Wednesday.

The results come from the annual Monitoring the Future Survey which is conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The big takeaways: Cannabis use remained stable for the three grades — eight, ten, and twelve — surveyed.

  • 8.3% of eighth graders, 17.8% of tenth graders, and 29.0% of twelfth graders reported use.

  • The data also shows that reports of teens vaping cannabis remained stable.

  • Abstinence from cannabis, alcohol, or any drug actually increased among twelfth graders, to 62.6%.

What they’re saying: “There have been no substantial increases at all,” Marsha Lopez, chief of NIDA’s epidemiological research branch said in a webinar on Wednesday. 

“In fact, they have not reported an increase in perceived availability either, which is kind of interesting,” she said. “So whatever is happening with adult-use [legalization] across the country has not really impacted the younger people according to the data here.” 

Back up: Research shows how frequent cannabis consumption is unhealthy for developing brains. It can lead to a host of psychological issues, including anxiety, reduced attention spans, and an overall decline in cognitive function. 

And fears over an uptick in teen use are one of the key pieces of evidence cited by anti-legalization nonprofit groups and lawmakers. It appears that this isn’t the case, and in fact, legalization can make it more difficult for teens to get their hands on THC. 

More generally, it’s crucial to cite useful, non-politicized statistics to understand how legalization is, and isn’t affecting public health. 

That way policymakers can write effective, evidence-based regulations that meet the multiplicity of legalization’s goals, including reducing teen use and creating economic opportunities, among others.

Republicans pushed for changes but they’ll have to wait until 2024

Driving the news: Ohio Republicans are going to have to wait to input a slew of changes to the voter-passed legalization ballot.

Perhaps most troubling to legalization advocates, Republicans sought to redirect cannabis tax revenue to a law enforcement wishlist, including creating and renovating jails, new county sheriffs, and more police training. 

But while a state House committee held a series of hearings, a proposal won’t be on Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk before lawmakers go on break. 

What they’re saying: “I think that people did not vote for the situation that we’re going to have if we don’t change it. And that is that it’s legal now to possess marijuana, legal to use it, but you can’t buy it legally,” Gov. DeWine said, supporting an Ohio Senate bill that would let Ohioans buy pot from the state’s medical dispensaries in as soon as 90 days, rather than wait for regulators to write more comprehensive legislation. 

Back up: Ohioans voted for legalization with 57% in favor and 43% against in November. It’s a bit strange for state Republicans to claim they didn’t know what they were voting for.

And Republicans have continually sought to undermine the bill since then. Senate Republicans tried to erode the bill’s social equity considerations, though ended up passing a bill that would add automatic expungements and protect home cultivation.

Still, using cannabis tax revenue for law enforcement is a nonstarter for most advocates and many Democrats. Expect this fight to continue.

🥊 Quick hits

  • People in states where cannabis isn’t legal are using more delta-8 THC and other lesser-known cannabis products. 

  • Michigan cannabis company SkyMint closed a major cannabis facility. 

  • Twelve dispensaries are set to open in New York State before December 31, Tremaine Wright, the chair of the state’s Cannabis Control Board, said on LinkedIn

  • An investor is suing cannabis site MJlink.com for bogus numbers, per Green Market Report

💻 What we’re reading