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Underage use of marijuana has not increased since legalization

Marijuana was first legalized for recreational use in Colorado in 2012, with the first retail store opening in 2014. Since then, anti-marijuana groups have argued that legalization may increase underage used of the substance.

However, federal studies have suggested that underage marijuana use has stayed the same since legalization or even dropped off in some studies.

Underage use studies

One study concluded that there was no a statistically significant increase in 30-day or lifetime marijuana use among high school students between 2013 and 2015 in Colorado.

Another study found that in the years 2014 and 2015, the rate of cannabis use among high school students in Colorado was slightly less than the national average.

Benefits for schools

Tax dollars from marijuana sales have contributed toward public education in Colorado. The Building Excellent Schools Today BEST grant program was allocated $40 million of marijuana tax revenue in the fiscal year of 2017-2018 to build new schools and renovate ones. Excess of marijuana tax revenue is also contributed to the Public School Fund.

Charges for underage use

Possession or consumption of marijuana by any individual under the age of 21, who does not have a medical marijuana prescription, can be charged with an unclassified petty offense violation.

This may result in a fine up to $100 and a court-ordered substance abuse education program. Subsequent offenses may result in higher fines, another educational program, abuse treatment and up to 36 community service hours.

If your teen faces marijuana-related charges, talk to a criminal defense attorney about their legal options. Immunity from prosecution may be granted to underage users in certain emergency situations.

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