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Uruguayan teens smoke less despite legalization

Miguel Rojo / AFP / Getty Images

Uruguay: cannabis use among young people investigated

In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis, instituting a non-commercial regulatory model of production and supply. Enough time to do a scientific review and assess the long-term effects of legalizing cannabis. According to this recent study, there is no evidence of increased cannabis use or perceived risk in adolescents.

A research group has already looked into the subject. Their study will be published in full in the June issue of the "International Journal of Drug Policy" and is quite good news for proponents of legalization. Legalization of cannabis does not affect the amount of joints young people smoke, study results.

The researchers collected data from 2014-2018 from surveys in which high school students in Montevideo and central regions of the country confessed to their own cannabis use. They were also asked how they perceive cannabis in public and what the presence of this substance is for them. The method used is the synthetic control (SAM): statistical method to assess the effect of an intervention in comparative case studies and thus estimate the impact of legalization in Uruguay during the year or previous months.

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Drug use among adolescents in Uruguay compared to Chile

The research team compared the results of this survey with similar data collected from young people in Chile, where cannabis is still banned. After analyzing the data, the study authors concluded that there is " no proof That Uruguay's decision to legalize weed has had a negative impact on cannabis use among young people. The researchers also found no difference in the perceived risks of cannabis use between Uruguayan and Chilean adolescents.

Although 58% of adolescents in Uruguay report using weed recreationally, this figure is only 51% in Chile. However, adolescents in Uruguay are not more likely to get high or use more than in Chile.

We find no evidence of an impact on cannabis use or perceived risk of use. We see an increase in students' perception of the availability of cannabis (58% observed vs. 51%) after legalization.

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Our results support the thesis that the Uruguayan state's regulatory approach to cannabis supply may minimize the impact of legalization on adolescent cannabis use. At the same time, our study period represents a transitional phase: access to the pharmacy is by far the most popular means of access and was not available before the summer of 2017. An additional study will be important to assess longer-term impacts.

One of the most common concerns voiced by opponents of cannabis reform is the possibility that the legalization of cannabis in adults will lead to more young people starting to smoke weed. The study mentioned here is the one that rejects all these hypotheses. In Denver, for example, cannabis use is legalized for adults. Studies confirm that it did no negative effect on adolescents.


Tags : AdolescentConsumptionJointProhibitionUruguay
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