As covered in previous posts, the 4th annual review of the impact of pot legalization on Colorado was recently issued by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA). The review examines the effects of legalization in seven areas including the effects on youth. One part of the youth section is worth repeating in total. It is entitled “America’s Youth — Marijuana Martyrs”:

  • Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize, were among the top three states with the largest increases in youth homelessness from 2013 to 2014. In each state, the youth homelessness rate grew by 27 and 13.3 percent respectively in just one year.
  • Colorado now ranks number one for regular marijuana use among youth (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). This proud achievement only came incrementally, though; Colorado once ranked a distant 14th in the country for youth usage. Once again, this jump in the rankings coincided with Colorado’s 2012 passage of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use.
  • Average use among teens in recreational/medical marijuana states rests at 10.5 percent compared to 8.9 percent in states where it is only legal for medicinal purposes and 6.1 percent in states where the drug is banned altogether. In other words, there is a direct correlation between availability of marijuana and teen usage.
  • According to Arapahoe House Treatment network in Colorado, teenage admissions for marijuana addiction in Colorado increased by 66 percent between 2011 and 2014, again correlating with the 2012 passage of Amendment 64.
    • Ninety-five percent of the teenagers treated for substance abuse and addiction in my adolescent substance-abuse treatment clinic at Denver Health are there because of their marijuana use, and because nationwide, 67 percent of teens are referred to substance treatment because of their marijuana use. Marijuana is the No. 1 reason why adolescents seek substance-abuse treatment in the United States. (Dr. Christian Thurstone, University of Colorado)
  • A comprehensive New Zealand study of 1,000 individuals over many years found that participants who used cannabis heavily in their teens had an astonishing average loss of 8 IQ points.

Although the above is a summary of mere numbers and percentages, we must remember that behind the figures are the lives of our children and teens — real kids who are becoming addicted to THC (THC addiction rates are higher for youth than for adults) and whose future prospects are forever impaired by a drug-induced, permanent loss of IQ.