Policymakers should heed lessons learned from tobacco control efforts when legalizing marijuana in order to protect youth, according to a commentary in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The key to reducing youth smoking has been the enactment and enforcement of policies to restrict young people’s exposure and access to tobacco products, wrote Linda Richter, Ph.D., and Lindsey Vuolo, J.D., M.P.H., of Partnership to End Addiction.
“With marijuana legalization spreading throughout the country, we must look to prior experience and acknowledge that unfettered access to an addictive substance that appeals to young people will end up causing harm,” they wrote. They argue that restricting youth exposure and access to marijuana “must be a deliberate and essential element of any legalization law, not an afterthought.”
Richter and Vuolo make a number of recommendations, including banning the marketing of marijuana products that target young people, including colorful packaging, child-oriented product names, enticing flavors, and edibles that resemble candy, soda and other treats commonly consumed by children.
They also call for prohibiting the advertising, promotion and sale of marijuana near locations frequented by young people and on entertainment, print and social media outlets that can be seen by youth.