3. Perceived harmfulness of using marijuana is increasing among youth.
According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, the perception of risk associated with smoking marijuana continues to decline across all grades. For example, only 31.1 percent of 12th graders in 2016 report that regular marijuana use is harmful, compared to 58.3 percent in 2000. This is important because less perceived harmfulness of a substance is generally associated with greater use. For example, a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that Washington state eighth and 10th graders perceived marijuana harmfulness decreased while their use increased over the past several years. Link: (Jama Network Article 2593707)
These changes followed the legalization of recreational marijuana use in the state. Monitoring the Future data also show that there continues to be a higher rate of marijuana use among 12th graders in states with medical marijuana laws, compared to states without them. Link: (Monitoring the Future)
Continued expansion of marijuana legalization for recreational and medical purposes will likely increase youth use in the future by reducing perceived harmfulness and stigma, and increasing youth access.