Researchers found marijuana use among eighth and 10th graders in Washington increased by 2 and 4 percent, respectively, after marijuana was legalized. (Steve Ikeguchi/Shutterstock.com)

For the states that have legalized recreational marijuana, how has cannabis legalization impacted teens and kids?

In many states where recreational weed is illegal, synthetic marijuana is extremely popular in lower-class neighborhoods. In fact, synthetic cannabis is 100 times more powerful than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that gives marijuana its effects. But, what about the teens in communities where recreational cannabis is legal?

How does legalized recreational marijuana affect teens?

Marijuana
Stock Photo: SPRINGFIELD, OR – FEBRUARY 16, 2016: Marijuana dispensaries like this one have popped up in large number due to a law change in Oregon legalizing pot for recreational purposes. (Joshua Rainey Photography / Shutterstock.com)

Researchers at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry examined marijuana legalization in a new study. After pot was legalized, Researchers found cannabis use among eighth and 10th graders in Washington increased by 2 and 4 percent, respectively.

In addition, in Washington the perceived harmfulness of pot decreased by 16.1 percent among 10th graders. In comparison to 7.2% in states that classify marijuana as an illegal drug.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, cannabis use among adolescents did not increase after legalization.

Researchers used data of over 250,00 students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades from 2010 to 2015. The researchers examined the differences of cannabis use after the drugs became legalized.

Overall, researchers argue that among eighth and 10th graders in Washington, harmfulness perceptions decreased and pot use increased following the legalization of recreational marijuana.

However, in Colorado there weren’t many changes in the perception or use of recreational marijuana among adolescents.

Researchers in the study call for communities, lawmakers, and parents to remain cautious about legalized recreational cannabis use among adolescents. In addition, scientists argue for additional funding be spent towards substance abuse programs for teens.

legalized receational marijuana
Stock Photo: BOISE, IDAHO/USA – MAY 7, 2016: woman in support of making marijuana legal at the Global Marijuana march (txking / Shutterstock.com)

“A cautious interpretation of the findings suggests investment in evidence-based adolescent substance use prevention programs in any additional states that may legalize recreational marijuana use,” researchers explained.

Drug use among teens

This news comes after a National Institute of Health study. In the study scientists found teens overall are using drugs less than previous generations. For example, nationwide weed use has declined from from 6.5 percent to 5.4 percent among eighth graders. In addition, 44 percent of 10th graders found pot as harmful.