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Cassidy is right: Teen cannabis use is down since pot legalization

Between 2011 and 2017, cannabis use among ninth through 12th-graders decreased from 23.1% to 19.8%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy, 14th District.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Sometimes it is necessary to watch the watchdog.

The Better Government Association recently got it wrong when they said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy falsely claimed teen cannabis use has declined in states that have legalized cannabis. (“Fact-check: Democrat blowing smoke with claim of decreased teen marijuana use”)

In fact, Rep. Cassidy is right.

Between 2011 and 2017, nationwide cannabis use among ninth through 12th-graders decreased from 23.1% to 19.8%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This decline happened as nine states and D.C. legalized recreational adult-use cannabis.

When you look at these nine states and D.C. specifically, teen use of cannabis is down in six of them. Two states show no change, and two show slight increases. Let’s look deeper into the data, which is available here:

  • In Colorado, usage among ninth- to 12th-graders dropped from 22% to 19.4% between 2011 and 2017.
  • In D.C., usage among 12- to 17-year-olds dropped from 10.6% to 8.3% between 2013 and 2017.
  • In Washington State, usage among eighth-graders dropped from 9.5% to 6.4% between 2010 and 2016; among 10th graders, usage dropped from 20% to 17.2%; and among 12th graders there was no change.
  • In Oregon, usage among eighth graders dropped from 9.7% to 6.7%.

As physicians, we follow the best scientific evidence, not cherry-picked data. The people of Illinois deserve to know the facts. It’s time for Illinois to join with the growing number of states that recognize that the legalization, regulation and taxation of adult-use recreational cannabis promotes public safety, while its prohibition hinders it.

David L. Nathan, MD, DFAPA, founder and board president, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation

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What about Kierra Coles?

As a mother and grandmother, I was grateful that police were able to discover what happened to Marlen Ochoa-Lopez and her baby. But what about Kierra Coles, who has been missing since Oct. 2, 2018? She was also pregnant and has not been seen. It seems that when a young African-American woman disappears, no one is ever held accountable.

I’m angry and sad that our lives are not valued. I pray for the safe return of her and her child.

Mable Stewart, Westchester

More gas tax revenue for irresponsible politicians

It is unfortunate that your editorial on gas taxes to pay for infrastructure ignored the elephant in the room.

Huge chunks of federal, state and local motor fuel tax revenue are already diverted from needed infrastructure. Recent reports are that half a billion dollars a year were diverted from Illinois taxes for non-transit uses.

Raising the gas tax will only give the politicians, who have proven themselves financially inept, more money to divert from needed infrastructure.

Earl Weiss, Skokie