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JOURNAL ARTICLE

An examination of opinions toward marijuana policies among high school seniors in the United States

Joseph J Palamar
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 2014, 46 (5): 351-61
25364985
Support for marijuana (cannabis) legalization is increasing in the US, and state-level marijuana policies are rapidly changing. Research is needed to examine correlates of opinions toward legalization among adolescents approaching adulthood as they are at high risk for use. Data were examined from a national representative sample of high school seniors in the Monitoring the Future study (years 2007-2011; N = 11,594) to delineate correlates of opinions toward legalization. A third of students felt marijuana should be entirely legal and 28.5% felt it should be treated as a minor violation; 48.0% felt that if legal to sell it should be sold to adults only, and 10.4% felt it should be sold to anyone. Females, conservatives, religious students, and those with friends who disapprove of marijuana use tended to be at lower odds for supporting legalization, and Black, liberal, and urban students were at higher odds for supporting more liberal policies. Recent and frequent marijuana use strongly increased odds for support for legalization; however, 16.7% of non-lifetime marijuana users also reported support for legalization. Findings should be interpreted with caution as state-level data were not available, but results suggest that support for marijuana legalization is common among specific subgroups of adolescents.

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