Marijuana Legalization: How it impacts teens in Oregon

Jan 12, 2018

Marijuana use among young people has increased since legalization in 2015
Credit Ashton /

A new study from Eugene based Oregon Research Institute finds marijuana use among young people has increased since the state legalized recreational use in 2015.

ORI was able to study marijuana use in 8th and 9th graders before and after legalization.  

Surveys found that that legalization did not impact teenagers who were first time users. But teens that had already tried marijuana before legalization and were using, were using more frequently after legalization. Dr. Julie Rusby is the principal investigator of the research. She says health care providers are concerned about lack of education around the risks of marijuana in developing brains.

“I think that teenagers aren’t aware that marijuana has a negative impact on their brains, especially cognitive processing. What I mean by that is things like decision making, memory, and problem solving.”

The study also found that there were lower increases in teens’ use of marijuana in communities that opted to prohibit sales. A recent sting operation by the OLCC found that fourteen percent of pot shops statewide were selling to minors.  

The research results are published online in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.