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Marijuana Legalization and Teen Access: Separating Fact from Fiction

One of the critical arguments against marijuana legalization has always been the concern for children’s safety. Advocates of prohibition often ask, “What about the children?” The fear is that legalizing marijuana would make it more accessible to minors. However, as we explore the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado, it becomes evident that reality doesn’t always align with these concerns.

The Black Market vs. Legal Market

When Colorado first legalized marijuana, many voiced concerns about the potential increase in teen access. The argument was that legalization would make it easier for minors to obtain marijuana. However, this argument overlooks a crucial point: the dynamics of the black market versus the legal market.

In the illegal black market, drug dealers have no legal obligations to verify the age of their customers. Consequently, minors can obtain restricted substances like marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol without much difficulty. In this scenario, profits are driven by demand, not by adhering to age restrictions.

Contrast this with the legal market for alcohol. In the era of Prohibition, illegal dealers, known as bootleggers, flourished. However, with the repeal of Prohibition, the legal market for alcohol became highly regulated and age-restricted. Bootleggers ceased to be a problem because there was no longer a lucrative market for illegal alcohol sales. Similarly, with the legalization of marijuana, there is less incentive for illegal dealers to target minors.

Examining the Data

Over the years, the government has conducted surveys of high school seniors to assess how easy it would be for them to obtain marijuana. Surprisingly, even before legalization, between 80 to 91 percent of students, depending on the year, believed it would be easy to obtain marijuana. The argument against legalization suggests that this percentage would increase post-legalization. However, the data tells a different story.

In the three years following marijuana legalization in Colorado, there has been a slight decrease in the percentage of high school seniors who believe it is easy to obtain marijuana. While the decline is not substantial, it highlights the fact that teen access to marijuana has not increased as predicted by opponents of legalization.

Quality Control and Safety

In addition to restricting access, legalization offers other advantages, especially concerning product safety. In the illegal market, there is no guarantee regarding the content, potency, or purity of marijuana products. Growers might lace their products with harmful substances, pesticides, or other drugs. With a legal market, marijuana products are subject to regulation and quality control, ensuring that consumers know what they are getting.

The argument that marijuana legalization increases teen access to the drug does not align with the data and real-world outcomes. The dynamics of the black market versus the legal market, along with regulatory measures, have contributed to maintaining or even reducing teen access to marijuana in Colorado.

Suppose you or a loved one are facing legal issues related to marijuana in Colorado. In that case, seeking legal counsel from experienced attorneys specializing in marijuana-related cases is essential. Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, is a trusted law firm with expertise in defending cases related to DUI-D and other marijuana-related offenses. Our attorneys can provide the necessary guidance and representation to protect your rights and navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding marijuana.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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