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Survey: Most parents say legal age for pot should be 21

1:07 PM, Jul 16, 2013   |    comments
Public opinion has shifted toward pragmatic acceptance of marijuana. (Photo: Ed Andrieski, AP)
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(USA TODAY) Even parents who support legalization of marijuana expect strict regulation of its availability to kids and teens, says a survey out today from a group that studies teen drug abuse.

The nationally representative online survey was done for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, a New York City-based non-profit organization formerly known as The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. It reached 1,603 adults, 1,200 of whom are parents of kids ages 10-19. About 42% of adults favored legalizing marijuana for recreational use, 52% said it should be decriminalized, and 70% favored legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

About half of both mothers and fathers said they had used marijuana. The number saying so in Colorado was 62%. Voters in Colorado and Washington state made marijuana use legal in November.

But despite those numbers, sentiment in favor of strict regulation to reduce the appeal to kids and teens was apparent.

About 90% of moms and 94% of dads say the legal age for marijuana use should be 21, the survey found.

Other findings:

• About 95% of moms and 96% of dads say marijuana should be prohibited in public places where smoking is banned. About 92% of Colorado parents and 96% of Washington state parents agree.

• About 88% of moms and 90% of dads say marijuana advertising should be banned.

• About 90% of moms and 85% of dads agree that marijuana can have strong negative effects on the still-developing brains of teens.

"The data bring to life the fact that parents have serious expectations that legal marijuana will be regulated and restricted to protect kids and teens," says Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Those expectations far exceed how legal marijuana is being implemented. So the fact remains, whether marijuana is legal or not, much more needs to be done to protect the health of our children."

Of the parents surveyed, 200 live in Colorado and 200 live in Washington.The margin of error was plus or minus 6.9 percentage points for the Colorado and Washington groups. For the rest, the margin of error was 4.9.

Cathy Payne, USA TODAY

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