In a study released this week by the California Department of Health Care Services in collaboration with the California Department of Education, the data reveals that teenagers using cannabis has declined significantly.  The study period 2015 – 2017 covering randomly selected 45,264 students.

The highest drop was in the 7th grade where cannabis use declined by 47% from 2013 to 2017.  Grade 9th cannabis use dropped 25% and grade 11 dropped 16%.  These results run counter intuitive to expectations.  While researchers could not say exactly the reasons for the drop, Ira Applebaum, a Social Service worker in the East End of Vancouver and a foremost authority on teenage suicide gave a lecture at UBC thirty years ago? and he had a great perspective on raising children and how to deal with their interest in drugs.

Ira Applebaum sees similarity between wolf cubs and human children.  From two to five, the child’s world is the parent.  From five to eight or nine, the child’s world is school, teachers and friends.  At ten, the child knows everything about parents, school, teachers and friends and the new boundary is the adult world.  In the adult world, there is drugs and sex.  It is the new frontier for the child.  How the parent responds to this natural curiosity will shape the child’s behaviour.   If the parent with no good reason says “Stay away or else” will only serve to heighten the natural curiosity.  In addition, if that is what the child see as the new frontier than as a parent you need to open up the world of possibilities the child needs to be aware of.  The wolf cub is similar.  The wolf cub initially will stay with half a kilometer where they were born.  As they get older they extend that range to kilometers.  The human child is similar that the child pushes the boundaries as they get older and drugs is one of those boundaries.

Along Ira Applebaum’s view of parenting, Californian parents may be more liberal and knowledgeable about the drug experience and what it is all about.  When the drug does not become an unknown for the child, the curiosity is diminished and the desire to explore lessen resulting in a drop of cannabis use?  Its a very plausible reason if you see Ira’s point of view.

Another factor to the drop in teen cannabis use may be legalization and the elimination of drug dealers.   There is, however, still a thriving grey market albeit a smaller one.

The study is here.