How Marijuana Regulation Can Help Keep Weed Out of Teens’ Hands

As you teach your teens about the risks and realities of drug abuse, it can be frustrating or intimidating for some to see the increase in legalization of marijuana across the country.

You’re not alone: increased access and increased teen usage is one of the biggest concerns around the legalization of marijuana. After all, doesn’t legalizing mean it will be easier for your teen to get their hands on some weed? Studies suggest this might not actually be the case. Here’s what you need to know about marijuana regulation and how it actually has the potential to keep your teen safe.

Understanding Regulation

With legalization comes an important counterbalance: regulation. Currently, in states where marijuana is illegal, this means there is very little regulation over who can access it and what the quality is.

But budtenders have a responsibility when they open up shop to only sell to those who are legal, in the same way that alcohol and tobacco retailers do. If they don’t, they could be in serious trouble resulting in fines or even closure. One budtender even described herself as the “gatekeeper to legal cannabis access” saying that the irony to the illegal drug trade is that there is no gatekeeper.

Youth Prevention Programs

Teen smoking marijuana joint

Image Credit: Stanimir G. Stoev /

With legalization comes another important aspect: youth prevention programs. For example, just like with alcohol and tobacco, funded youth prevention programs have the potential to be used more widely under a legalized and regulated system, rather than discussions of marijuana being taboo. Ultimately, awareness and understanding are key ingredients in your teen staying safe.

Looking at the Numbers

While these ideas and concepts might be all informative, it’s the numbers that really shed light on how regulation can actually benefit parents and keep teens safe.

For example, in Colarado, marijuana use amongst teenagers went down two percent between between 2011 and 2013. Colorado legalized marijuana use in 2012.

Furthermore, one budtender says that in her legal shop, the majority of people using its services already have experience with cannabis on the illegal market—there’s not a huge rush of people trying the drug out “just because they can.” In fact, she estimates that less than 10% of her sales go to new customers.

Finally, one study conducted by Monitoring the Future suggests that the perceived availability of cannabis amongst teens has gone down in the past five years, even as states have increasingly legalized the drug.

The Importance of Education

At the end of the day, whether marijuana is legal or not, regulated or not, it’s important to educate your teen on the risks and responsibilities of its use. After all, education is the most powerful tool they will have at their disposal for keeping themselves safe.

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