Teen marijuana use down in California

A new study of teenagers in California supports the findings of similar studies: marijuana use among teens is dropping, including in states where adult use is legal.

According to the 16th Biennial State California Healthy Kids Survey, “Current marijuana use is now at 10% and 17%” among ninth and eleventh graders, respectively, and that these numbers have gone “down 4 and 3” percent since the previous survey. Lifetime and current use numbers have both declined. The study also found that while teens say alcohol and marijuana are not hard to obtain, binge drinking and drunk driving have also declined. Tobacco use has declined as well.

Among the study’s other findings:

  • The percentage of seventh graders who have never tried marijuana has increased from 92 to almost 96 percent from 2013-15.
  • The percentage of ninth graders who have never tried it increased from about 77 to about 83 percent.
  • Among eleventh graders the number rose from 62 to 68 percent.

Not only are fewer of California’s teens using marijuana but also use is declining among those who do use it. For example:

  • Ninth graders who report having used marijuana ten to nineteen times in the previous thirty days dropped from 1.7 percent to 1.0 percent from 2013-15.
  • Eleventh graders who report the same use dropped from 2.6 to 1.8 percent.
  • Ninth graders who used twenty or more days fell from 3.0 to 1.8 percent.
  • Eleventh graders who report the same dropped from 5.3 to 3.9 percent.

Results are supported by other studies

This study is not alone in finding that teen use has dropped. Others studies, including in other states where adult use is legal, have shown similar trends.

For example, a study published in the journal Drug & Alcohol Dependence found “no change in prevalence of use” among “12–17 or 18–25 year-olds” after medical marijuana became legal in their area. Another study found that after legalization in Washington state, the number of teens who said it was easy to obtain marijuana did not increase. A different study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found “no evidence of a differential increase in past-month marijuana use in youth that can be attributed” to medical marijuana legalization. This conclusion echoes a previous finding, published in Lancet Psychiatry that found “no evidence for an increase in adolescent use of marijuana in the year of passage of a medical marijuana law, or in the first or second years after passage.”

Study after study has shown that where marijuana has become legal for adults, use has not increased among teens. In California, teen use is dropping, even though adult use is legal.

Teen use is down nationwide

Moreover, a recent nationwide survey indicates that California kids are not alone. Its conclusions: “In the United States, compared to 2002, even after adjusting for covariates, [cannabis use] decreased among youth during 2005–2014, and [cannabis use disorders] declined among youth cannabis users during 2013–2014. Associations between declines in tobacco use and decreased CU suggest the importance of tobacco use control and prevention among youth.”

The message to those who argue that legalization leads to increased use among youth is clear: the facts speak otherwise.

What do you think? Why are kids turning away from marijuana? Leave a comment below.

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