Canadian Teens Find Cannabis Harder To Get Post-Legalization, Study Finds

Zinger Key Points
  • High school cannabis access dropped from 51% to 37.4% in Canada after legalization.
  • Research aligns with U.S. trends showing a drop in youth marijuana use amid legalization movements.
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A Canadian study, recently published in the journal Archives of Public Health, has found that high school students are reporting decreased access to cannabis following its legalization for adults in 2018.

The research, conducted in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec with data collected between 2018 to 2021 involved students in grades nine to twelve.

Notable Drop In Perceived Availability

The study‘s findings include a notable drop in students’ perception of cannabis as easily accessible, decreasing from 51.0% to 37.4% over the study period. Additionally, the prevalence of current cannabis use, defined as use within the past month, declined from 12.7% to 7.5%.

Interestingly, older students and those who had previously used cannabis reported easier access, suggesting that perceptions and availability vary with age and experience.

Factors Influencing Changes: Beyond Legalization

The researchers were cautious in attributing these changes solely to Canada’s cannabis laws; they considered other factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on social interactions. Their analysis aligns with trends observed in the United States, where youth perceptions of cannabis accessibility have also been declining, reported Marijuana Moment.

The Importance Of Tailored Control Efforts

Furthermore, the study highlights the importance of tailored cannabis control efforts, focusing on different age groups and experiences. This approach is crucial given that more than a third of respondents still found cannabis easy to access. The authors suggest prioritizing youth-focused interventions, noting no significant gender differences in access perceptions.

Trends In Cannabis Use Among Youth And Role Of Legalization

In a broader context, these findings are part of a global trend. In the U.S., the CDC reported a continued decline in high school students’ cannabis use amid legalization. Similarly, a Massachusetts study found no increase in youth marijuana use post-legalization, although perceptions of parental cannabis use rose. A National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded study also concluded that state-level legalization does not correlate with increased youth use.

The study findings underscore the critical role of legal regulation in curbing underage use, highlighting its importance in an era marked by the increasing use of cannabis and psychedelics.

Photo: Courtesy of cottobro and Kindel media by Pexels

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Posted In: CannabisRegulationsHealth CareArchives of Public HealthCanadaCDCNIDA
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