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Teen use doesn’t increase after legalization

Plus, Senators ask DEA to hurry up, and more

Happy Friday, everyone. 

Another day, another jam-packed week of cannabis news. 

But if you’re looking for the DEA’s rescheduling announcement, afraid not much is new there other than yet another letter from lawmakers asking the agency to hurry it up.

And in other news, a Massachusetts federal judge will hear oral arguments for a case arguing that cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional on May 22. Road trip anyone?

Let’s get to it.

- Jeremy Berke & Jay Rosenthal

This newsletter is 1134 words or just under six minutes of reading.

💡What’s the big deal?

Teens don’t use more weed after legalization

What happened: Cannabis legalization isn’t associated with an uptick in teen use, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry

The researchers performed a statistical analysis on 207,781 respondents of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and found no association between states legalizing cannabis and more teens using. 

The researchers also found that retail cannabis shops didn’t lead to more teens using. It’s yet another crucial data point that shows legalization policies are working as intended — at least keeping developing brains away from potentially harmful cannabis use. 

Heavy cannabis use is particularly harmful for adolescents, with some troubling studies pointing to reduced academic performance and mental health issues, ranging from increased anxiety to triggering schizophrenia. 

What they’re saying: “Results suggest that legalization and greater control over cannabis markets have not facilitated adolescents’ entry into substance use. Yet, given the negative health consequences associated with early and heavy use of these substances, and results suggesting users of cannabis may be increasing their frequency of use in response to retail availability, greater attention is warranted to sources and trajectories among frequent youth users of cannabis,” the researchers write. 

Why it matters: Measuring whether legalization has been a success or failure depends on the specific policy outcomes that lawmakers are trying to achieve. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau specifically pushed for legalization in Canada as a response to that risk — keeping weed out of kids’ hands. Studies show that teens say it’s been harder to access cannabis after legalization. 

But because cannabis is cannabis, legalization debates get polarized between true believers and vehement drug warriors. Like any hot-button issue, the truth always lies somewhere in the messy middle. 

Anti-legalization groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana have latched on to the specter of more teens getting high and associated mental health risk — a playbook straight out of the Reagan-era DARE program — as perhaps the core of their argument. 

It’s safe to say the evidence isn’t on their side.

And as it becomes easier for researchers to evaluate the pros and cons of cannabis legalization, policymakers will have many more tools in their kit to make effective decisions and tweak regulations accordingly.  

The final word: It’s certainly true that there are negatives associated with legalization. It’s far from a panacea. 

If there is an uptick in teen use, or new research specifically outlines a causal link between cannabis and, say, schizophrenia, regulators should be responsive to data and react accordingly. 

As an industry, we need to be clear-eyed about what those are to effectively push back on disingenuous, fact-free arguments that many on the anti-legalization side spout. 

It’s important that whatever side of the legalization debate you fall on, you’re basing your arguments on the evidence, and not emotion.

If you want to see what that looks like, just take a look at the reviews for Alex Berenson’s widely-panned polemic against legalization. 


🗨️ Quote of the day

“Many of you have heard me say, I just don’t think people should have to go to jail for smoking weed. And these pardons have been issued as an extension of that approach,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on Thursday at a White House event with Kim Kardashian

Last month, Harris hosted a roundtable for those that were pardoned under the Administration’s push earlier this year. 

Quick hits

A federal judge in Massachusetts will hear arguments on May 22 for a lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of US cannabis companies by star lawyer David Boies’ firm that asserts the federal government’s prohibition of cannabis is unconstitutional. The Department of Justice said in a filing last month that Congress has the ability to regulate legal cannabis within states because it attracts out-of-state tourists. Read Jeremy’s interview with one of the lawyers on the case here

A group of 21 lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and John Fetterman, wrote a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Justice, urging the DEA to “promptly” remove cannabis from Schedule I, reports HuffPost. It’s been over eight months since the DEA was directed by the Department of Health and Human Services to move cannabis to Schedule III from the most restrictive Schedule I. Here’s the full text of the letter. And the DEA’s response to an earlier letter in January, here.

Lawmakers in Louisiana passed a bill that would create a regulatory framework for cannabis legalization, reports Marijuana Moment. The bill sets up a framework to pass reform in three parts — first, regulatory change, then possession and a tax structure. Republican Gov. Jeff Landry hasn’t said whether or not he’d support legalization. 

Many rolling paper brands you can buy at your local gas station or dispensary contain potentially hazardous levels of heavy metals, according to new research published in the journal ACS Omega. 

The maker of Sensodyne toothpaste is now lobbying the federal government on CBD reform, CannabisWire reports.

📊 Chart of the day

The total economic impact from cannabis sales in 2024 will exceed $112 billion, according to Marijuana Business Daily’s new factbook. By the end of the decade, that number will exceed $203 billion. 

It’s important to note that total economic impact differs from total sales or industry size, and includes things like how much workers at cannabis firms are injecting into the local economy as well. 

The total amount of legal cannabis sales is set to hit $32 billion this year and $58 billion by the end of the decade. 

🤝 Deals, launches, partnerships

Cannabis tech company Treez is launching Treez Ecommerce to help its existing dispensary clients create “online storefronts.”

😂 One funny thing

The Ontario Cannabis Store, the province’s main cannabis distributor, is “cleaning and trimming” its website.

📰 What we’re reading

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