Remember all those people that said teens would start doing drugs like crazy if states legalized marijuana? Well, at least in Colorado, it looks like they were dead wrong. Since Colorado legalized in 2014, the percentage of teens using marijuana has gone from just over 12 percent to about 9 percent, according to new federal survey data.

There’s more. The survey found heroin use and alcohol use are also down. It looks like legalization has had a pretty good effect in the state overall.

“Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana,” said Brian Vicente of Vicente Sederberg LLC, one of the drafters of Colorado’s marijuana ballot measure, in a statement. “There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs.”

Marijuana advocate Brian Vicente, who co-authored the ballot measure that legalized cannabis, said this shows opponents of legalization are wrong when it comes to how it affects teens.

“This is the study that opponents of marijuana legalization quote time and time again: the National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” Vicente told Westword. “And the fact that now it’s showing a very significant dip is extremely important.”

Vicente believes legitimizing marijuana sales makes it less likely teens are going to be acquiring it from a drug dealer, which means teen use will go down.

“This is something we talked about on the campaign trail, and it just makes common sense — that if you take marijuana out of the hands of drug dealers and put the sales behind the counter, where it’s sold by regulated employees under camera, they’re just much more likely to ask for I.D.,” Vicente said. “What Colorado has effectively led the world in is taking marijuana sales off the streets and out of the hands of drug dealers and has them take place behind the counter, similar to alcohol sales.”

Colorado was one of the first states to legalize, but you can bet we’ll see similar trends in states that have legalized more recently.

[Photo by Brooke Hoyer/Flickr]

About The Author

Thor Benson is a traveling writer currently based in Los Angeles. His writing has been featured in Vice, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast and elsewhere. He can be found in a run-down whiskey bar. Follow him on Twitter at: @thor_benson.

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