Culture Shift? Teenagers Most Anti-Marijuana Group in America

Support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and cannabis laws across the country are being relaxed, but one part of the population is becoming increasingly judgmental about the nation’s permissive attitude to pot.

Stereotypically, it’s the elderly who are at the forefront of finger wagging at pot smokers and are loudly voicing their opposition to ending cannabis prohibition. On the other hand, the allegedly open-minded young are thought to be more willing to embrace an experimental approach to living and substance use.

It remains the case that those most relaxed about marijuana are relatively young. According to research published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, strong disapproval of marijuana use among young adults between the ages of 18-25 plummeted 40 percent to 22 percent between 2002 and 2013.

However, teenagers took a radically different view than their more free wheeling older peers. Over the same time period, the number of young people between the ages of 12 and 14 saying they strongly disapproved of cannabis use rose from 74 percent to 79 percent.

Not only are large portions of the youth demographic becoming more judgemental about pot, but they are also less likely to use it than their predecessors, according to the study.

The number of young teenagers who used cannabis in the last year fell from six percent in 2002 to 4.5 percent in 2013. Even the age group of 15-17-year-olds are shunning pot, with use in the last year dropping from 26 percent in 2002 to 22 percent in 2013.

However, rates of marijuana use among young adults were generally stable over the 11-year period. The study used data from the yearly National Survey on Drug Use and Health, covering 70,000 people each year collected from 2002 to 2013.

The paper is broadly in line with more recent data released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) showing that nationally, 7.4 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 used pot on a monthly basis in 2014.

While marijuana use among teenagers has not soared in the way some had feared, use has risen substantially among adults over the age of 26 from 5.6 percent to 6.6 percent. Later this year, SAMHSA will release figures breaking down marijuana use state by state, which may help to clarify how legalization in certain states may be affecting use rates.