While Colorado has seen no marked increase in teen cannabis use since legalization, a new study found that delivery methods are moving away from smoking and into edible consumption.
A new study, published in JAMA Pediatrics and based on a survey of high school students suggests that teens in Colorado are moving away from smoking cannabis and into edibles. According to the study, from the students questioned in 2017, around 78% said they smoked cannabis. That number was down from 87% in 2015. At the same time, teens who said they use cannabis edibles regularly increased by 10% over the same period.
As Kayla Tormohlen, Ph.D. candidate, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, according to a Leafly report, “Since the implementation of retail marijuana sales, we haven’t seen an increase in use among youth, but we are seeing a difference in how young people are consuming,” she said.
One of the advantages of cannabis edibles is that they are regulated (for the most part) and contain specific concentrations of the active compounds in cannabis. Those purchasing edibles are also told in advance by dispensaries how to take the edibles and that they can take up to 3 hours to take effect.
The researchers noted in the study that it’s vital for various delivery systems to be monitored when it comes to cannabis consumption among adults in states where the plant is legal. As the study authors wrote, “These modes are important to monitor because of their unique psychoactive associations, and potential harms, including unintentional overconsumption with edibles and increased physiological tolerance and withdrawal associated with the high tetrahydrocannabinol levels of cannabis concentrates used for dabbing.”
With all that said, it’s encouraging to note also that teen consumption of cannabis hasn’t increased since legalization. Furthermore, those products that teens do purchase are regulated and certainly safer than the stuff purchased on the black market.
At the same time, data from dispensaries and online cannabis vendors in legal states consistently lean towards the increasingly popular trend of cannabis edibles. As David Abernathy, vice president of data and government affairs for The ArcView Group, said according to the same report, that while most people still smoke cannabis flowers, many are moving towards THC vape juice and cannabis edibles.
“We’ve seen that in states with a more competitive legal market, the illicit market has shrunk substantially,” said Abernathy, “and that’s the biggest thing we can do to keep cannabis out of the hands of teenagers.”
Back when cannabis was legalized in Colorado, many people argued that it would increase revenue, human rights, and even law enforcement. At the end of 2018, state legislators commissioned a report from the Department of Public Safety. The findings from that report were enlightening and mainly very positive. Some of the key points from the report were crime, traffic accidents, hospital admissions, and effects on teens.
For example, the report found that serious crimes involving the sale of cannabis fell considerable between 2008 and 2014. The amount of cannabis packages sent from Colorado and caught by the US postal service has naturally increased annually since 2010. However, the report also found that cannabis was the biggest single reason for school expulsions in 2016/17.
Finally, from 50,000 high school students who were questioned in Colorado, cannabis use among teens aged 12-17 in 2015/16 was the lowest since 2007. Despite legalization. As legal cannabis is a new experiment that comes following decades of prohibition, there are some teething problems when it comes to getting a proper grasp on the plant.
While tax revenues are naturally increased due to legalization, other issues are also in the mix. It remains to be seen how legalization in Colorado will turn out long, and for that matter, only time will tell.