Just because marijuana is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe

Asked whether marijuana should be legal for adults in California, voters answered with a resounding “yes” in November. But that doesn’t mean the matter is completely settled. And it definitely doesn’t mean voters support marijuana use by minors.

Many questions remain about the drug – its effect on children and on drivers, to name just two – and the answers are only just starting to trickle in as researchers dig deeper into the public policy ramifications of making weed widely available.

Take the most recent red flag raised by UC Davis epidemiologist Dr. Magdalena Cerdá.

In a study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics, Cerdá’s team of researchers found that teens in Washington state started getting high more often after voters legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012. Why? They were convinced the drug wasn’t dangerous anymore.

“Across the country there has been a decreased perception of risk and an increase in marijuana use among adolescents,” Cerdá, the study’s lead author and associate director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, told Reuters.

Among the eighth-graders Cerdá’s team studied, their “perception of harmfulness” fell by about 14 percent between 2010 and 2015. Among the 10th-graders, the drop was about 16 percent. That’s alarming compared with teens in states where weed isn’t legal for recreational use. Their perception of harm fell by only 5 to 7 percent, according to the study.

So what does that mean for California, with its newly approved…

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