PULLMAN, Wash. — New research at Washington State University says marijuana use among teens has gone down since retail sales were legalized in Washington state.
The research found that marijuana use “went down significantly” among eighth- and tenth-graders after legalization and among 12th-graders who did not have a job. The researchers defined a job as anything that did not include household chores, yardwork and/or babysitting.
The researchers used data from the state’s biennial Healthy Youth Survey from 2010 and 2016 in their study.
Only high school seniors who worked 11 or more hours per week were found to have increased marijuana usage after legalization. Usage stayed nearly even for seniors who worked less than 11 hours per week, researchers said.
On Nov. 6, 2012, Washington voters approved marijuana discrimination by a 10-point margin. That allowed recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older.
Marijuana was first able to be purchased legally in Washington on July 8, 2014. Washington was the second state behind Colorado to sell recreational marijuana.
The research was led by WSU College of Nursing Assistant Professor Janessa Graves and appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
“Kids who work more often use substances, that’s not a shock,” Graves said, noting other studies have shown the same result.
Graves went on to explain what parents of teenagers can do to address marijuana use among teens.
“Kids learn a lot by working, in terms of responsibility,” Graves said. “But there are also pretty good data showing that kids who work engage in adult-like behaviors earlier. I would say this for any parent of working kids: It’s important to know the quality of management and supervision at your child’s job. Be thoughtful about the quality of a particular workplace.”
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