Introduction: As more states pass recreational cannabis laws (RCLs) for adults, there is concern that increasing (and state-sanctioned) cannabis acceptance will result in a reduced perception of risk of harm from cannabis among children. We aimed to discover whether children in states with RCLs had decreased perception of risk from cannabis compared with children in states with illicit cannabis. Methods: We analyzed data from the multisite multistate Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study to determine how the perception of cannabis harm among children (age at baseline: 9-10; N=10,395) changes over time in states with and without RCLs. Using multilevel modeling, we assessed survey responses from children longitudinally across 3 years, adjusting for state-, family-, and participant-level clustering and child-level factors, including demographics (sex, race, and socioeconomic status), religiosity, and trait impulsivity. Results: There was no significant main effect of state RCLs on perceived risk of cannabis use, and no differences in change over time by state RCLs, even after controlling for demographic factors and other risk (e.g., impulsivity) and protective (e.g., religiosity) factors. Conclusions: This analysis indicates that state-level RCLs are not associated with differential perception of cannabis risk among children, even after controlling for demographics, trait impulsivity, and religiosity. Future studies could assess how perception of risk from cannabis changes as children and adolescents continue to mature in states with and without RCLs.
Keywords: adolescent; cannabis; cannabis laws; impulsivity; legalization; policy.