Teens Using Less Marijuana After Legalization in Washington State, Research Says

Posted on 2019-03-29 at 12:43 PM


By newsroom

Washington was one of the first States to legalize marijuana. Recreational marijuana was legalized in retail stores way back in 2014.

A new youth survey led by a WSU College of Nursing Assistant Professor Janessa Graves published in the Journal of Adolescent Health threw light on marijuana consumption habits among teenagers after retail sales were legalized in Washington.

The attempt was to figure out if legalization made a difference in marijuana use among high schoolers who had long hours in a job (not including household chores, yard work, babysitting), those who didn’t have jobs. The research was weighed against the results from Washington States’ biennial Healthy Youth Survey from 2010 and 2016. The results have been unexpected.

  • High school seniors in grade 8th to 10th working over 11 hours a week have been using substantially less marijuana.

  • Marijuana consumption is less among 12th graders who didn’t work.

  • There was not much difference in marijuana use in high school seniors who worked less than 11 hours per week.

  • 4.8% of 8th graders who didn’t work reported using pot within the last 30 days.

  • 20.8% of 8th graders who worked reported using marijuana.

  • 13.9% 10th graders who didn’t work used marijuana within the last 30 days in 2016.

  • 33.2% of 10th graders who worked used marijuana.

  • 20.5% 12th graders who didn’t work used marijuana.

  • 36.7% 12th graders who worked used marijuana.

The one thing that was apparent in all results is that high schoolers who worked over 11 hours per week used more marijuana than their non-working peers. Graves stated "kids who work more often use substances, that's not a shock."

This is because kids who work interact with adults (who are not legal parents, coaches or teachers) in a mature atmosphere that exposes them to substances that are not meant for them. Working high schoolers also have access to more disposable income than their non-working friends.

The study concludes saying that parents must pay attention to the quality of the workplace that kids come in contact with when working. "Kids learn a lot by working, in terms of responsibility,"

Graves said. "But there are also pretty good data showing that kids who work engage in adult-like behaviors earlier. I would say this for any parent of working kids: It's important to know the quality of management and supervision at your child's job. Be thoughtful about the quality of a particular workplace." Graves also suggested that employers should take action by advertising and enforcing zero-tolerance policies of adult employees.


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