A new Drexel study found that while Pennsylvania’s youth are more accepting of marijuana, their attitudes towards use of it recreationally has not increased.
The research, led by Phillip Massey, an assistant professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health, made use of a questionnaire that calculated the opinions of young Pennsylvania residents on marijuana — both before 2016, the year it was legalized for medical use, and after. The datasheet, created by the Pennsylvania Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup, also explored access and use of the drug from 2013 to 2017.
A survey in the recently released report demonstrates that rates of adolescents who strongly disapproved of marijuana use — aged 12 to 17 years old — dropped 7 percent, from 60.7 percent in 2013 to 53.3 percent 2016. The survey also showed that the rate of young people who were opposed to trying marijuana plummeted from 71 percent in the years before its medical legalization to 62.2 in 2017. Additionally, the numbers demonstrating the willingness to try marijuana have gradually increased over the years.
The report could be pertinent to the overall discussion of marijuana legalization, as it debunks the worries of others that by legalizing weed, it would lead to greater use and potential abuse, according to Massey.
“Of course, we need to continue to monitor this trend, but these preliminary data tell me that the people who need marijuana for medical purposes are the ones benefiting from this law,” Massey told DrexelNow. “It doesn’t appear to be affecting youth use.”
The workgroup’s datasheet also addresses arrest rates related to marijuana in Pennsylvania. While it generally remained unchanged from 2010 to 2016, youth arrests fell significantly within the six years — from about 112 marijuana-related arrests per 100,000 to about 79 arrests in 2016. Massey believes the impact among juveniles may be related to marijuana decriminalization in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.