Report Shows Teen Cannabis Use In Uruguay Has Not Been Impacted By Legalization

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Seven years after it became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana, Uruguay’s youth are no more likely to get high under the new law, according to a new study. 

In an article to be published in next month’s edition of the International Journal of Drug Policy, the researchers offer what they describe as the “first empirical evidence on [the law’s] impacts on adolescent use of cannabis and related risks.” 

The authors said they found “no evidence of an impact on cannabis use or the perceived risk of use” among adolescents in the country, as well as “an increase in student perception of cannabis availability” following legalization.

“Our findings provide some support for the thesis that Uruguay’s state regulatory approach to cannabis supply may minimize the impact of legalization on adolescent cannabis use,” the authors wrote in their conclusion. “At the same time, our study period represents a period of transition: pharmacy access, by far the most popular means of access, was not available until the summer of 2017. Additional study will be important to assess the longer-term impacts of the fully implemented legalization regime on substance use outcomes.”

Uruguay’s Progressive Pot Policy

While other countries have long had relaxed policies toward marijuana, Uruguay in 2013 passed the most far-reaching form of legalization in the world to date (in 2018, a similarly sweeping law took effect in Canada). Lawmakers in Uruguay were inspired to pursue the legislation as a way to curtail drug trafficking in the country.

According to NORML, under Uruguay’s law “cannabis sales are restricted to those age 18 or older who register with the state,” while other products “may only be produced by state-licensed entities and sold at specially licensed pharmacies” and “THC levels are capped by regulators and government price controls ($1.30 per gram) are imposed upon flower.” 

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