Does Legalization Affect Youth Cannabis Use?

Does Legalization Affect Youth Cannabis Use?

As infused beverages, edibles, and the like make their debut in Canada, many have questions about how the youth will be affected. While some worry that the effects could be detrimental, the reality is quite different considering the health and legislative infrastructures in place. At the end of the day, education and information still play a significant role in youth cannabis use. Not to mention that post-legalization studies and surveys give us plenty of data and evidence to examine. In this week’s article, we take a look at the numbers to find out whether or not legalization affects youth cannabis use. 

Youth Cannabis Use Concerns in Canada 

Young people using cannabis and the effects it could have on their physical and mental health have long been a concern. In 2013, a United Nations International Children’s Fund study found that adolescents in Canada were far more likely to consume cannabis with about 29% of them having consumed it within the previous year. However, that same study also found that Canadian teen’s alcohol and tobacco use were far below average, compared to the other 28 countries which were studied. It’s important to note that this study took place before the legalization of recreational cannabis, when there was no stable infrastructure or protocol in place for such concerns. In 2014, Dr. Sheryl Spithoff and Dr. Meldon Kahan recommended using the public health framework and cannabis education to mitigate and manage these concerns.

Canada After Cannabis Legalization

In a post-legalization Canada, the reality is that there is still a noticeable stigma surrounding cannabis users, especially from the perspective of young people. However, one of the most notable benefits of legalization is that the public health framework is being used to study and examine data on youth cannabis use. After all, two of the main factors for legalizing were to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people and squash the illegal trade. A recent study has shown that cannabis use among adolescents aged 15-17 years has fallen from 19.8% to 10.5% after legalization. Michelle Rotterman of Statistics Canada noted that when placed in context, these numbers show a trend of youth cannabis use dramatically decreasing over ten years. 

Cannabis Youth Usage in Newly Legalized American States

While we are still advancing in a post-legalization Canada, we should also pay attention to our American neighbours. This summer, a study published in the American Journal of Public health reviewed the before and after effects of legalization on youth cannabis use. In the state of California, the study found that there was no significant increase; whereas, the state of Pennsylvania saw an increase in youth cannabis use after legalization, but not after implementation. Although these figures may be a slight cause for concern for some individuals, it’s vital to highlight the two vital differences: federal legalization and the use of the public health framework. In Canada, legalization across the board has allowed the government to regulate cannabis and put into place systems and programs to study and oversee its effects on young people.

Time to Enjoy

The legalization of cannabis has had a great impact on many things; however, as opposed to what some may believe, youth cannabis use in Canada has actually decreased over time. As more information becomes available, we look forward to further examining the trends and benefits that legalization has had for Canada. If you’re looking for more cannabis education and information, visit our Instagram. Anyone searching for strain recommendations or tips on selecting smoking accessories, be sure to visit the Parkdale Brass blog. While you’re there, why not have a look at our online shop, as we’ll soon be restocking our functional, rugged, and timeless brass pipes.


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