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Marijuana Use Among Justice-Involved Youths After California Statewide Legalization, 2015-2018

NCJ Number
American Journal of Public Health Volume: 110 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2020 Pages: 1386-1392
Emily Kan; Jordan Beardslee; Paul J Frick; Laurence Steinberg; Elizabeth Cauffman
Date Published
September 2020
7 pages
The goal of this study was to determine the impact of California’s recreational marijuana legalization on marijuana use among justice-involved (JI) adolescents and young adults, as well as to determine whether any changes resulted from legalization (passing the law) or from implementation of the law.
The study compared changes in JI youths’ marijuana use in two states: California (n=504), where recreational marijuana use was recently legalized, and Pennsylvania (n=478), where recreational use is still prohibited. In addition, changes were examined in marijuana use across three key time periods, i.e., before legalization, after legalization but before implementation, and after implementation. The study found that California JI youths did not engage in a significant increase in marijuana use after legalization (b=0.010; P=.950) or implementation (b=0.046; P=.846); however, in Pennsylvania, rates of marijuana use increased significantly after legalization (b=0.602; P=.001) but not after implementation (b=0.174; P=.533). The study concludes that although recreational marijuana legalization was not associated with changes in marijuana use among youths in California, an increase in rates of marijuana use occurred in Pennsylvania after legalization in California. Recreational marijuana laws may be indirectly related to youths’ increased marijuana use by supporting more permissive national attitudes toward marijuana. 34 references (publisher abstract modified)