Regular marijuana use among Colorado middle and high school students has declined after the start of legal cannabis sales to adults in the state.
Colorado was the first state in the nation to open recreational marijuana markets in 2014. And they have only benefited. New federal data shows that regular teen marijuana use has declined. According to new federal survey data, this is its lowest level in nearly a decade.
New Data on Teen Marijuana Use
The federally-funded National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that the percentage of Colorado teens who used marijuana in the past year is down more than two points in 2015-2016 compared to 2014-2015.
And it’s not just marijuana: Rates of teen alcohol, tobacco, and heroin use are also down sharply in the state.
In Colorado, for instance, the number of 18-to-25-year-olds using alcohol on a monthly basis fell by four percentage points between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. That’s the group with the highest propensity to use marijuana. This suggested that young adults are opting to smoke weed instead of consuming alcohol now that the option is available to them.
For state-level data, the survey pooled two-year periods to increase sample sizes and statistical accuracy. Last year the survey showed that Colorado ranked No. 1 in the nation on adolescent marijuana use.
With the sharp drop in this year’s data, Colorado has fallen to No. 7 in the national ranking of teen marijuana use, behind Alaska, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.
“Colorado is effectively regulating marijuana for adult use. Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana,” said Brian Vicente, a partner at Vicente Sederberg LLC, and one of the lead drafters of Colorado’s legalization measure. “There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs. The days of arresting thousands of adults in order to prevent teens from using marijuana are over.”
via CNN Money
While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, voters in eight states have legalized the recreational use of the drug. In addition, lawmakers in Vermont have signaled they will legalize the recreational use of marijuana early next year.
If that’s the case, it could be a big public-health win and an even bigger win for the cannabis community.