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WIRE: CDC reports fewer young people have easy access to cannabis

Washington, DC — Fewer young people are reporting that marijuana is ‘easy’ to obtain, according to an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control.

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Investigators from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the CDC evaluated annual data compiled by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for the years 2002 to 2014. Researchers reported that the percentage of respondents aged 12 to 17 years who perceived marijuana to be “fairly easy or very easy to obtain” fell by 13 percent during this time period. Among those ages 18 to 25, marijuana’s perceived availability decreased by three percent.

Researchers further reported that “since 2002, the prevalence of marijuana use and initiation among U.S. youth has declined” – a finding that is consistent with prior studies.

By contrast, authors reported an uptick in use among adults. However, they acknowledged that this increase in adult marijuana consumption has not been associated with a parallel increase in problematic use.

There have been “steady decreases in the prevalence of marijuana dependence and abuse among adult marijuana users since 2002,” the study found. Those adults experiencing the greatest percentage increase in marijuana use during the study period were respondents over the age of 55.

Since 2002, 18 states have passed medical cannabis use laws, and four states have enacted laws legalizing and regulating the adult use of pot. In November, voters in five states will decide on adult use initiatives, while voters in at least four states will decide on ballot measures specific to regulating the plant’s medicinal use.

A separate analysis of the data published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry similarly acknowledged no observed increase in marijuana use disorders. A previous assessment of marijuana use patterns since 2002, published earlier this year in JAMA Psychiatry, also reported a decline in the percentage of adults reporting marijuana-related problems.

Overall, the study reports that men are more than twice as likely as women to report having used marijuana in the past month, and that respondents residing in the western region of the United States are most likely to be regular consumers of the substance.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the CDC study, “National estimates of marijuana use and related indicators – National Survey on Drug Use and Health, United States, 2002-2014,” appears online.

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