Arguments both for and against the legalization of cannabis often include the issue of youth protection. At the time of writing 5-years after the implementation of the Coloradan recreational cannabis market (CRCM), no statistically significant increase in consumption had been identified. This paper aimed to provide a thick descriptive account of youth prevention objectives stipulated in the pre-implementation phase of the CRCM and compare these with the real-world experience of regulators and other stakeholders involved with market implementation.
Methodology and Methods
A qualitative descriptive methodology was used that involved the following methods: document analysis, deductive coding, thematic analysis, and thick description. Two data sets relevant to youth protection in the context of a legal cannabis market in Colorado were examined. Data set 1 (DS1) examined government documents (n = 13) related to the pre-implementation phase from November 2012 – December 2013. Data set 2 (DS2) consisted of semi-structured face-to-face interviews conducted with key stakeholders (n = 32) in 2016 and 2017.
Five themes emerged including advertising restrictions (DS1), education (DS1), appropriation of funds (DS2), impact assessment (DS2), and evolving messages in prevention education campaigns (DS2).
Multiple lessons for other jurisdictions were highlighted in the study.