Marijuana and Youth

Published in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis / Edited By J. Gruber (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2001), Chapter 6, p. 271-326

by Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Michael Grossman, Frank J. Chaloupka, Patrick M. O'Malley, Lloyd Johnston, Matthew C. Farrelly

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For the past 25 years, marijuana has been the most commonly used illicit drug among adolescents. In this chapter, the researchers explore the demand for marijuana among a nationally representative sample of American high school seniors from the Monitoring the Future study. After summarizing the scope of the problem, the authors present the first set of estimates of the price elasticity of demand for the prevalence of marijuana use by high school seniors. They report a conservative lower-bound estimate of -0.30. The authors' findings imply that changes in the real, quality-adjusted price of marijuana contributed significantly to the trends in youth marijuana use between 1982 and 1998, particularly during the reduction in use noted from 1982 to 1992. They add that changes in youth perceptions of the harms associated with regular marijuana use had a substantial effect on both the reduction in use during 1982-92 and on the subsequent expansion in use after 1992.

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