It turns out that the youths of today are far more interested in consuming cannabis as they are smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. While some might think this is bad news, it is in fact much better news than you could anticipate.
A recent study, published int the Journal of Adolescent Health, revealed the following (via NORML): Researchers with the University of Washington assessed trends in alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain reliever use among a cohort of over 12,500 young adults (ages 18 to 25) in Washington State following adult-use cannabis legalization.
They reported, “Contrary to concerns about spillover effects, implementation of legalized non-medical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse.” Researchers did find that the prevalence of past-month e-cigarette use increased post-legalization.
Authors concluded, “Our findings add to evidence that the legalization of non-medical cannabis has not led to dramatic increases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and non-prescribed opioids. … The findings indicate that the most critical public health concerns surrounding cannabis legalization and the evolution of legalized cannabis markets may be specific to cannabis use and related consequences.”
Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Real-world data from legalization states disputes longstanding claims that cannabis is some sort of ‘gateway’ substance. In fact, in many instances, cannabis regulation is associated with the decreased use of other substances, including many prescription medications.”
In essence, the researchers at UW confirmed something that cannabis activists have known since the dawn of modern legalization. When you legalize and regulate cannabis, there are no associated increases on other drugs — and seemingly, it has the opposite effect.
It seems that cannabis acts more as a “gateway out of drugs” as we discussed in an article last week. What we’re seeing is that people are tending to swap out their other drugs for cannabis. Medical patients use fewer opioids, tobacco addicts quit, alcoholics significantly reduce their consumption, psychiatric patients reduce their anxiolytic intake, and much more. Cannabis, in a way, consolidates the effects of all these other substances, and provides a more robust return on investment.
Personally, I prefer getting stoned.
I’ve long stopped drinking, except for when I want to get a little buzz on. However, for me alcohol is almost like taking a harder drug. I don’t take LSD just because, I always take it with an intent. Similarly, I don’t open a bottle of wine or some Whiskey unless I want to get a bit tipsy.
However, I can go months or even years without wanting or needing alcohol. For me, my main drug of choice is cannabis and it has been for over twenty years. That’s because I don’t get hungover as with alcohol, and I don’t have such severe withdrawal than what I get from tobacco.
Furthermore, since cannabis takes longer to consume per gram than tobacco, it lasts longer, meaning I spend less money on achieving almost the same effect as what alcohol and tobacco would give me. It seems, the youth caught onto this truth as well.
The Youth Prefer Vaping
While I’m an old school stoner that still loves joints, blunts, pipes and bongs, kids these days prefer vaping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the idea of vaping either. I have my own Pax unit and I love it!
However, young adults primarily consume in vaporized format mainly due to its convenience, its ease of use and overall discretion compared to the other formats.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Addiction, confirmed this trend:
Cannabis vaping is increasing as the most popular method of cannabis delivery among all adolescents in the U.S., as is the frequency of cannabis vaping, according to research at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. The study found that the frequency of vaping cannabis among adolescents from all demographic groups is reported at six or more times per month, and rising faster than occasional use. Those who vape and smoke nicotine are more than 40 times more likely to also vape and smoke cannabis.
Until now time trends in vaping use had largely been unexamined including trends in use frequency, emerging disparities, and co-occurring use of other substances, which are all critical for surveillance and public health programmatic efforts. The findings are published in the journal Addiction.
Of course, the study focuses more on an alarmist perspective, but the fact remains that kids these days are going to vape more than any other way.
Is This a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
Of course, we want our youth to be as “drug free” as possible. Yet, if they choose cannabis over alcohol and tobacco, on a physiological level they will have fewer detrimental effects. Unlike alcohol, cannabis isn’t associated with violent behavior and unlike tobacco, it’s far less addictive.
This isn’t to say that kids aren’t vulnerable to addiction but if we have to choose between the lesser of evils — cannabis consumption is far less damaging than the other mainstream drugs.
Now, it’s about drug education. But one thing is certain, the youth today isn’t as interested in getting “obliterated” as my generation was, but they also are smoking more potent forms of cannabis — so ultimately, who knows what will happen.
For now, it seems that cannabis will be growing in market share over the coming years and the next generations will consume it far more openly than previous generations. The world is finally going green. The way it was always meant to be.