Woe the teenager smoking weed.
That’s the view of many policymakers, social observers and others frowning upon efforts to legalize recreational marijuana use in New Jersey.
They worry in a weed-legal world, teens will be inundated with cannabis, leading to more young people using marijuana (though any pending bills still make weed off-limits to those under 21).
Further, they worry more weed use will mean worse overall health for teens.
Yet the research tells a more nuanced story.
Federal data show that marijuana use in Colorado, for example, dropped nearly 12 percent for people ages 12 to 17 between 2013-14 and 2014-15, to 18.35 percent. The first commercial sales of recreational pot in Colorado began Jan. 1, 2014. (The rate in New Jersey was 12.41 percent for 2014-15.)
Other weed-friendly states report similar drops.
On the question about teen health and marijuana, the answers aren’t so clear.
“There are studies that show harm,” said David Nathan, a psychiatrist based in Princeton. “There are studies that show no harm at all.”
Consider the teen brain on weed.
Research on whether marijuana can damage the brain and cause other health problems has produced mixed results.