Amongst the concerns taking center stage in Springfield as lawmakers enter the final stretch of the legislative session is irrespective of whether Illinois need to join a expanding quantity of states in lifting a prohibition on recreational marijuana.

Whilst the legislation beneath consideration would bar legal sales to these beneath 21, critics have raised issues that the less difficult access could nevertheless lead to higher use amongst teens.

One particular Democratic lawmaker who spoke in help of the program when it was unveiled not too long ago by Gov. J.B. Pritzker was state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat.

Cannabis need to be sold in venues that are very regulated, taking the pot industry out of the shadows,” Cassidy mentioned. “In states that have legalized, you see steady decreases in youth use if you do it correct.”

PolitiFact in current years has assessed adjustments in pot use amongst youth when investigating claims about how legalization has impacted citizens in Colorado, which became the initially state in the nation to greenlight retail sales in 2014 just after voters authorized cannabis for adult recreational use by ballot measure in 2012.

Given that 2014, the information show no statistically important uptick in pot usage amongst teens so legalization hardly leads to the reefer madness some critics feared. But the numbers obtainable for Colorado and other states that have lifted bans for adults also do not reveal the clear pattern of decline in youth pot use that Cassidy described.

Handful of test instances

If lawmakers approve the program, Illinois could turn out to be the 11th state to permit adults to use cannabis recreationally and the second in the Midwest, just after Michigan, exactly where voters in November authorized a measure legalizing the drug.

So far, retail sales are up and operating in seven of these states, like 3 in just the final 3 years. That tends to make it tougher to come by extensive statistics.

Cassidy sent us an e-mail promising an aide would “share the research out of Colorado,” but nothing at all arrived from the lawmaker’s workplace as of our deadline. She also didn’t clarify what she meant by “do it correct.” Colorado and Washington have been the initially states to legalize retail marijuana sales, so they have the longest track records to study.

Flanked by other pro-pot Democrats, Gov. J.B. Pritzker released the full, much-anticipated bill to lift the statewide prohibition on marijuana. | Tom Schuba for the Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, releases the complete, substantially-anticipated bill to lift the statewide prohibition on marijuana as state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, third from left, and other pro-pot Demorats listen. File Photo. | Tom Schuba for the Sun-Instances

In Colorado, a 2018 report by the state Division of Public Safety’s Division of Justice reviewed information from the Healthier Youngsters Colorado Survey, which consists of answers to different wellness inquiries asked of a lot more than 40,000 middle and higher college students just about every other year. The survey is performed by the state’s Division of Public Overall health & Atmosphere.

Benefits from the survey show 19.7% of Colorado higher schoolers reported employing marijuana inside the previous month in 2013, the year just before the initially retail marijuana retailer opened. In 2015, that figure rose slightly, but professionals told PolitiFact in 2016 that improve was not statistically important. In 2017, the price dipped to 19.four%, slightly reduced than it had been in prior surveys dating back to least 2005.

Medical marijuana grows in the flowering room at Illinois Grown Medicine in Elk Grove Village, Monday morning, May 6, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Healthcare marijuana grows in the flowering area at Illinois Grown Medicine in Elk Grove Village, Monday morning, May perhaps six, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Instances

But the Colorado report consists of a big disclaimer. It states upfront that the majority of information connected to marijuana legalization is “baseline and preliminary,” generating it “difficult to draw conclusions about the prospective effects of marijuana legalization and commercialization on public security, public wellness, or youth outcomes” due to the lack of historical information.

Jonathan Caulkins, a public policy professor at Carnegie Mellon University and former co-director of RAND’s Drug Policy Investigation Center, echoed that warning to PolitiFact Illinois.

“The complete effects of cannabis legalization will not be observed for a generation just after national legalization, which has not even occurred but,” he wrote in an e-mail.

As for preliminary state outcomes? Caulkins mentioned that generating recreational marijuana legal for adults has carried out small to have an effect on use by youth — in big portion due to the fact cannabis was currently somewhat uncomplicated for minors to receive in these states.

A person smokes marijuana during the annual 4/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP)

A individual smokes marijuana for the duration of the annual four/20 rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on April 20, 2019. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP)

Certainly, material integrated in the Colorado survey characterizes as “relatively unchanged” the slight variations in teen marijuana use due to the fact legalization.

Voters in Washington also authorized recreational cannabis in late 2012, and retail sales of the drug there started in 2014, six months just after Colorado.

The state conducts a biennial youth wellness survey equivalent to Colorado’s, which breaks its information down by grades. Its outcomes show some compact declines but recommend small has changed there either, with decreases of 1% in between 2014 and 2016 amongst 8th and 10th graders who mentioned they presently utilised pot, followed by 1% increases for each grades in 2018. For 12th graders, prices fell by 1% the year just after retail sales started and have remained at that level, which is in line with pre-legalization prices.

“The findings with respect to youth are typically mixed and rely critically on what measures of youth use 1 desires to concentrate on,” mentioned Rosalie Pacula, a senior economist with RAND and present co-director of the Drug Policy Investigation Center who analyzed survey information for Washington and Colorado in various current reports.

She explained in an e-mail to us that research of states exactly where adult use is legal typically show either no impact or some decline in previous-year or 30-day use prices amongst youth, based on the survey information utilised. But outcomes for a lot more frequent and risky use are “a bit a lot more mixed,” she mentioned, with some displaying an uptick.

Modifications in the other 5 states exactly where retail sales are underway are even a lot more tough to evaluate than Colorado or Washington. Alaska’s state survey reported no statistically important adjustments due to the fact recreational cannabis was authorized for adults in 2014 and hit the industry in 2016. Benefits in Oregon, which followed a equivalent timeline, have been mixed. And it is as well quickly to assess outcomes out of Nevada, California and Massachusetts, which each and every repealed bans in late 2016 but only started permitting sales inside the final two years.

Our ruling

Cassidy mentioned, “In states that have legalized, you see steady decreases in youth use if you do it correct.”

She did not offer any proof to back up her statement.

Of the 10 states that permit adults to use cannabis recreationally, only 4 have permitted retail sales extended adequate to offer adequate information points for a preliminary comparison. Whilst state survey information show no spike in present marijuana use amongst teens, they also fall brief of suggesting the downward trajectory Cassidy described.

We price her claim Largely False.


Largely FALSE – The statement consists of an element of truth but ignores vital information that would give a distinctive impression.

Click right here for a lot more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we choose information to verify.

The Better Government Association runs PolitiFact Illinois, the nearby arm of the nationally renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning truth-checking enterprise that prices the truthfulness of statements created by governmental leaders and politicians. BGA’s truth-checking service has teamed up weekly with the Sun-Instances, in print and on the net. You can uncover all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.


State marijuana policies, Marijuana Policy Project, accessed May perhaps eight, 2019

State marijuana policy timeline, National Conference of State Legislatures, accessed May perhaps eight, 2019

“State Rep. Moylan on recreational marijuana: Not so quick,” Chicago Sun-Instances, May perhaps six, 2019

Video, Illinois Division of Central Management Solutions, May perhaps four, 2019

“Pritzker, Dems introduce bill to legalize marijuana statewide,” Chicago Sun-Instances, May perhaps four, 2019

“Did marijuana use in Colorado spike just after legalization?” PolitiFact, Mar. 25, 2019

“Has Colorado teen pot use not elevated due to the fact legalization?” PolitiFact Arizona, Oct. six, 2016

E mail interview: Rep. Kelly Cassidy, May perhaps eight, 2019

Report: Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado, Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, October 2018

Healthier Youngsters Colorado Survey, Colorado Division of Public Overall health & Atmosphere, accessed May perhaps eight, 2019

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