While the rate of marijuana use continues to increase, its perceived danger has decreased among 8th and 10th graders in the state of Washington. This was according to a study conducted by UC Davis and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and published online in JAMA Pediatrics. The findings of the study come in the heels of the legalization of recreational marijuana.
In the state of Colorado, there was also no change in use or perceived harm among teens in similar grades. Washington and Colorado were the first two states to legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Two years later, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC also legalized recreational cannabis use. Just this November, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada voted for its legalization.
The study was the first to make an assessment of the perception of teens regarding marijuana use before and after the legalization of recreational use. The findings were compared to the attitudes of teens were marijuana use is still considered illegal, according to a news article.
According to Deborah Hasin, an epidemiology professor at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University and psychiatry at the Columbia University, the perceived danger of marijuana has seen a sharp drop in the last few years in the United States, even though there were adverse effects associated with marijuana use in some adults and adolescents. Hasin served as the principal investigator of the study.
In states where marijuana use is still not legal, the perceived harm saw a 5 to 7 percent decrease among students in the same grade levels. However, marijuana use dropped by 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent. Among older adolescents in Washington and Colorado, there were no changes in perceived harmfulness after the legalization.