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Just before the number of Americans supporting legalization began to increase, we found a sharp increase in the proportion of articles about marijuana that discussed its medical uses.
In 1988, only 24 percent of Americans supported legalization. In a study published this February, we examined a range of possible reasons, finding that the media likely had the greatest influence. Both younger and older people developed more liberal views about the legalization of marijuana at a similar pace over the last 30 years.
In this way, changes in attitudes about marijuana legalization mirror recent increases in support for LGBTQ individuals.
Laws that legalized recreational marijuana were associated with an 8% drop in the number of high schoolers who said they used marijuana in the last 30 days, and a 9% drop in the number who said they'd used at least 10 times in the last 30 days, according to the paper published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics on Monday."Just to be clear we found no effect on teen use following legalization for medical purposes, but evidence of a possible reduction in use following legalization for recreational purposes," said Mark Anderson, an associate professor at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, who was first author of the paper.
The paper involved analyzing data, from 1993 to 2017, on about 1.4 million high school students in the United States from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys."Because many recreational marijuana laws have been passed so recently, we do observe limited post-treatment data for some of these states," Anderson said.
As Americans started to feel the full social and economic effects of tough-on-crime initiatives, they reconsidered the problems with criminalizing marijuana.
Because support for the legalization of marijuana and concerns about the harshness of the criminal justice system changed at about the same time, it’s difficult to know what came first.Whatever the initial impetus, attitudes today are drastically more supportive, and legalization is increasing fast.Marijuana use among young people in the United States overall has climbed in recent years, but a new paper suggests that in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, marijuana use among youth may actually be falling.At that time, The New York Times was more likely to lump marijuana together in a kind of unholy trinity with cocaine and heroin in discussions about drug smuggling, drug dealers and the like.During the 1990s, stories discussing marijuana in criminal terms became less prevalent."In a few years, it would make sense to update our estimates as more data become available."The new study appears to contradict some separate state-level studies that suggest marijuana use among teens remains unchanged -- instead of declining -- following legalization, said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics in Stanford University's Division of Adolescent Medicine in Palo Alto, California, who was not involved in the new paper.For instance, a 2018 report from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Office of Research and Statistics found that the proportion of high school students in the state who said they used marijuana ever in their lifetime or in the past 30 days remained statistically unchanged from 2005 to 2017.And marijuana had lost its association with other Schedule I drugs like cocaine and heroin in the New York Times.Gradually, the stereotypical persona of the marijuana user shifted from the stoned slacker wanting to get high to the aging boomer seeking pain relief.Of course, many Americans do not read The New York Times.But analysis of newspapers of record, like this one, provide insight into how the news media has changed its framing of marijuana, especially during an era when newspapers were still a primary news source.