A common argument against the legalization of marijuana is that it will decrease the substance’s perceived harm and lead to an increase of use among teenagers. However, according to the most recent version of the Monitoring the Future Study, the opposite may be true.
Having surveyed 50,000 students in grades 8, 10, and 12, the study found that while perception of marijuana’s harm has been drastically declining among teens, teen marijuana use has either essentially stayed the same or declined.
Between 1996 and 2015, the number of teens that disapproved of regular marijuana use plummeted from 60 percent to just 32 percent. During the same period, past-month usage for eighth graders declined from 11.3 percent to 6.5 percent. Likewise, past-month usage for 10th graders declined from 20.4 percent to just 14.8 percent.
Although past-month usage for high school seniors declined by less than one percent, past-year use was reduced from 40.2 percent to 38.6 percent.
According to Forbes, researchers find the results “encouraging” even though it is unclear as to why exactly teen marijuana use is on the decline.