Pennsylvania’s Goin’ to Pot
A study of young people in Pennsylvania found that although people are becoming more accepting of marijuana, use has not increased.

_Phillip Massey

Massey is an associate professor of community health and prevention in the Dornsife School of Public Health.

Young people’s attitudes toward pot have become more positive in Pennsylvania now that the state is among those legalizing medical marijuana, but that shift in attitude doesn’t seem to have affected use.

“This is important because many people fear that legalizing marijuana will lead to greater use and potential abuse,” says Philip Massey, an assistant professor in Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health, who headed up the report.

The report explored attitudes about marijuana in the years before and after it was legalized for medical use in 2016. Among Pennsylvanians age 12 to 17, the rate of those who strongly disagreed with marijuana use dropped from 60.7 percent in 2013 to 53.3 percent in 2017. Over the same period, the rate of Pennsylvania youths who thought their parents would feel that it was “very wrong” to smoke marijuana dropped from 81.2 to 75.4 percent.

Additionally, the rate of young people who said they would never try marijuana dropped from 71 percent in 2013 to 62.2 in 2017, with those unsure about whether or not they would want to try it growing from 6.7 to 10.3 percent.

“Of course, we need to continue to monitor this trend, but these preliminary data tell me that the people who need marijuana for medical purposes are the ones benefitting from this law,” Massey says.