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Monitoring the Future, an ongoing federally funded study of the behaviors of American adolescents, has released their 2022 findings. Focusing on three school grade groups – 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students – the study found that cannabis use rates for each cohort were largely unchanged from last year.

The Monitoring the Future (MTF) study assesses past-year, past-30 day, and daily rates of self-reported substance use among young people. Rates of teen cannabis use remained stable in each grade group across all three periods of time. Speaking to the legitimacy of the study, National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow asserts that the MTF is “one of the best and most timely tools we have to monitor and understand changes in substance use among young people over time.”

MTF data indicates that rates of cannabis consumption amongst teens remains near historic lows. In 1996, lifetime use of cannabis by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders was 23%, 40%, and 45%, respectively. The 2022 MTF study found those numbers to now be 11%, 24%, and 38% amongst those same groups. 

Furthermore, a consistent decline in adolescents’ use of cannabis is apparent since 2012, when states first began legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults and establishing regulated retail sales programs. In recent years, these significantly lower rates are beginning to stagnate. This data trend directly contradicts and discredits common prohibitionist arguments that legalizing cannabis leads to increasing rates of its consumption by school-aged children and young adults. 

Commenting on the data, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “These latest findings add to the growing body of scientific literature showing that marijuana regulation policies can be implemented in a manner that provides access for adults while simultaneously limiting youth access and misuse.”

Additional information is available from NORML’s fact sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.’

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