Editorial: Why are so many kids smoking pot?
Just as readers were digesting the surprising news that the New Hampshire House had approved legislation legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults, the state released a report showing that marijuana use among teenagers here is higher than elsewhere. It’s easy to see how both sides of the legalization fight might use such data to buttress their case: They can argue that legalization will only make a bad situation worse – and they can argue that prohibition is clearly not working here.
More immediately important: Lawmakers and public policy experts should attempt to figure out why New Hampshire youths would have such a different attitude toward marijuana than their peers elsewhere – and what might be done about it.
According to the study, rates of marijuana use among New Hampshire adolescents and young adults are significantly higher than the national average and the rates of other Northeast states. The state rate for 12- to 17-year-old use is the ninth highest in the country (nearly 10 percent), and the state rate for 18- to 25-year-olds (more than 25 percent) is the ﬁfth highest. The study also asked participants about the perceived risk of marijuana use; New Hampshire youths saw considerably less harm from marijuana use than their peers elsewhere in the country. Among adults (ages 26 and older), marijuana use patterns are more in line with the region and the nation.
What gives? And what might be done about it?
Gov. Maggie Hassan’s vow to veto the marijuana legalization bill means that particular debate will continue into the future. But getting a better handle on why kids here are more prone to smoking pot than others and finding more effective prevention strategies is worth our attention today.