Reality-verify: Democrat blowing smoke with claim of decreased teen marijuana use


Amongst the troubles taking center stage in Springfield as lawmakers enter the final stretch of the legislative session is no matter if Illinois need to join a expanding quantity of states in lifting a prohibition on recreational marijuana.

Even though the legislation below consideration would bar legal sales to these below 21, critics have raised issues that the simpler access could nevertheless lead to higher use amongst teens.

1 Democratic lawmaker who spoke in assistance of the strategy when it was unveiled not too long ago by Gov. J.B. Pritzker was state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat.

Cannabis need to be sold in venues that are very regulated, taking the pot industry out of the shadows,” Cassidy mentioned. “In states that have legalized, you see steady decreases in youth use if you do it ideal.”

PolitiFact in current years has assessed adjustments in pot use amongst youth although investigating claims about how legalization has impacted citizens in Colorado, which became the initial state in the nation to greenlight retail sales in 2014 just after voters authorized cannabis for adult recreational use by ballot measure in 2012.

Due to the fact 2014, the information show no statistically considerable uptick in pot usage amongst teens so legalization hardly leads to the reefer madness some critics feared. But the numbers accessible for Colorado and other states that have lifted bans for adults also do not reveal the clear pattern of decline in youth pot use that Cassidy described.

Couple of test situations

If lawmakers approve the strategy, Illinois could grow to be the 11th state to enable adults to use cannabis recreationally and the second in the Midwest, just after Michigan, exactly where voters in November authorized a measure legalizing the drug.

So far, retail sales are up and operating in seven of these states, such as 3 in just the final 3 years. That tends to make it tougher to come by extensive statistics.

Cassidy sent us an e mail promising an aide would “share the research out of Colorado,” but absolutely nothing arrived from the lawmaker’s workplace as of our deadline. She also didn’t clarify what she meant by “do it ideal.” Colorado and Washington had been the initial states to legalize retail marijuana sales, so they have the longest track records to study.

Flanked by other pro-pot Democrats, Gov. J.B. Pritzker released the full, much-anticipated bill to lift the statewide prohibition on marijuana. | Tom Schuba for the Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, releases the complete, considerably-anticipated bill to lift the statewide prohibition on marijuana as state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, third from left, and other pro-pot Demorats listen. File Photo. | Tom Schuba for the Sun-Instances

In Colorado, a 2018 report by the state Division of Public Safety’s Division of Justice reviewed information from the Healthful Children Colorado Survey, which consists of answers to different overall health inquiries asked of a lot more than 40,000 middle and higher college students just about every other year. The survey is carried out by the state’s Division of Public Wellness &amp Atmosphere.

Outcomes from the survey show 19.7% of Colorado higher schoolers reported employing marijuana inside the previous month in 2013, the year just before the initial retail marijuana retailer opened. In 2015, that figure rose slightly, but authorities told PolitiFact in 2016 that improve was not statistically considerable. In 2017, the price dipped to 19.four%, slightly reduce than it had been in preceding surveys dating back to least 2005.

Medical marijuana grows in the flowering room at Illinois Grown Medicine in Elk Grove Village, Monday morning, May 6, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Healthcare marijuana grows in the flowering space at Illinois Grown Medicine in Elk Grove Village, Monday morning, Could six, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Instances

But the Colorado report consists of a significant disclaimer. It states upfront that the majority of information associated to marijuana legalization is “baseline and preliminary,” creating it “difficult to draw conclusions about the possible effects of marijuana legalization and commercialization on public security, public overall health, or youth outcomes” due to the lack of historical information.

Jonathan Caulkins, a public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University and former co-director of RAND’s Drug Policy Study Center, echoed that warning to PolitiFact Illinois.

“The complete effects of cannabis legalization will not be noticed for a generation just after national legalization, which has not even occurred however,” he wrote in an e mail.

As for preliminary state final results? Caulkins mentioned that creating recreational marijuana legal for adults has accomplished small to have an effect on use by youth — in significant element for the reason that cannabis was currently reasonably effortless for minors to receive in these states.

A person smokes marijuana during the annual 4/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP)

A particular person smokes marijuana in the course of the annual four/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP)

Certainly, material integrated in the Colorado survey characterizes as “relatively unchanged” the slight variations in teen marijuana use because legalization.

Voters in Washington also authorized recreational cannabis in late 2012, and retail sales of the drug there started in 2014, six months just after Colorado.

The state conducts a biennial youth overall health survey comparable to Colorado’s, which breaks its information down by grades. Its final results show some modest declines but recommend small has changed there either, with decreases of 1% amongst 2014 and 2016 amongst 8th and 10th graders who mentioned they at present employed pot, followed by 1% increases for each grades in 2018. For 12th graders, prices fell by 1% the year just after retail sales started and have remained at that level, which is in line with pre-legalization prices.

“The findings with respect to youth are typically mixed and rely critically on what measures of youth use 1 desires to concentrate on,” mentioned Rosalie Pacula, a senior economist with RAND and existing co-director of the Drug Policy Study Center who analyzed survey information for Washington and Colorado in numerous current reports.

She explained in an e mail to us that research of states exactly where adult use is legal typically show either no impact or some decline in previous-year or 30-day use prices amongst youth, based on the survey information employed. But final results for a lot more frequent and risky use are “a bit a lot more mixed,” she mentioned, with some displaying an uptick.

Modifications in the other 5 states exactly where retail sales are underway are even a lot more tricky to evaluate than Colorado or Washington. Alaska’s state survey reported no statistically considerable adjustments because recreational cannabis was authorized for adults in 2014 and hit the industry in 2016. Outcomes in Oregon, which followed a comparable timeline, had been mixed. And it is also quickly to assess final results out of Nevada, California and Massachusetts, which every repealed bans in late 2016 but only started permitting sales inside the final two years.

Our ruling

Cassidy mentioned, “In states that have legalized, you see steady decreases in youth use if you do it ideal.”

She did not give any proof to back up her statement.

Of the 10 states that enable adults to use cannabis recreationally, only 4 have permitted retail sales extended adequate to give adequate information points for a preliminary comparison. Even though state survey information show no spike in existing marijuana use amongst teens, they also fall brief of suggesting the downward trajectory Cassidy described.

We price her claim Largely False.


Largely FALSE – The statement consists of an element of truth but ignores vital information that would give a unique impression.

Click right here for a lot more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we pick information to verify.

The Better Government Association runs PolitiFact Illinois, the neighborhood arm of the nationally renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning truth-checking enterprise that prices the truthfulness of statements created by governmental leaders and politicians. BGA’s truth-checking service has teamed up weekly with the Sun-Instances, in print and on the internet. You can discover all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.


State marijuana policies, Marijuana Policy Project, accessed Could eight, 2019

State marijuana policy timeline, National Conference of State Legislatures, accessed Could eight, 2019

“State Rep. Moylan on recreational marijuana: Not so rapid,” Chicago Sun-Instances, Could six, 2019

Video, Illinois Division of Central Management Solutions, Could four, 2019

“Pritzker, Dems introduce bill to legalize marijuana statewide,” Chicago Sun-Instances, Could four, 2019

“Did marijuana use in Colorado spike just after legalization?” PolitiFact, Mar. 25, 2019

“Has Colorado teen pot use not enhanced because legalization?” PolitiFact Arizona, Oct. six, 2016

E mail interview: Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Could eight, 2019

Report: Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, October 2018

Healthful Children Colorado Survey, Colorado Division of Public Wellness &amp Atmosphere, accessed Could eight, 2019

E mail interview: Jonathan Caulkins, public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University and former co-director of RAND’s Drug Policy Study Center, Could 7-9, 2019

Healthful Youth Survey, State of Washington Workplace of Superintendent of Public Instruction, accessed Could eight, 2019

2018 information short, Washington State Healthful Use Survey

E mail interview: Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, economist and co-director of the Drug Policy Study Center, Could 7, 2019

Report: Association of State Recreational Marijuana Laws With Adolescent Marijuana Use, JAMA Pediatrics, February 2017

Report: Prevalence of Cannabis Use in Youths Soon after Legalization in Washington State, JAMA Pediatrics, Dec. 19, 2018

2017 preliminary highlights, Alaska Youth Danger Behavior Survey

Oregon Healthful Teens Survey, accessed Could eight, 2019

Nevada Youth Danger Behavior Survey, accessed Could eight, 2019

Biennial Student Survey, California Division of Wellness Care Solutions, accessed Could eight, 2019

Massachusetts Youth Wellness Survey, Massachusetts Division of Public Wellness, accessed Could eight, 2019




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