Teen Cannabis Use Drops in Colorado

Yet another study has shown that fears about teen cannabis use due to legalization are largely unfounded. A recent survey from the state of Colorado shows that teen use of cannabis dropped 35 percent from 2019 to 2021.

The information came from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, conducted every other year by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The survey monitors a variety of issues impacting teens, including drug and alcohol use,  bullying, mental health, sexual activity, and experiences of racism and violence.

The latest survey asked 107,000 students at 340 schools across the state about their use of cannabis. They found that 13.3 percent said they used cannabis at least once in the past 30 days, a drop from 20.6 percent in 2019 and 21.2 percent in 2015.

The survey also reported that 26.1 percent of high school students said they had tried cannabis at least once, a drop from 35.8 percent who said the same in 2019. The findings echoed the results from a similar study done in Washington state.

Teens Cannabis Use Declined as Availability Lessened

Given that both medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Colorado, it’s interesting to note that fewer teens said access to marijuana in their state is easy. In 2019, more than half (51.4 percent) said access to cannabis was easy. That number dropped to 40.3 percent in 2021.

That number backs up the contention of legalization supporters. They argue that having a government-regulated legal market makes it harder for teens to get their hands on weed.

The survey also saw declines in a third area: driving while high. In 2019, 11.2 percent of teens admitted they had driven under the influence of marijuana. In 2021, that number dropped to 5.5 percent.

The one area that remained relatively the same is dabbing, an inhalation method that involves super-heating concentrated cannabis and inhaling through a dab rig. It’s one of the more popular ways to consume cannabis without smoking it. The survey found that 49.2 percent of students said dabbing is a method they used to consume cannabis in the past 30 days, slightly down from the 52 percent who said the same in 2019.

Colorado Study Mirrors National Study

The results of the Colorado survey matched those from a recent National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey that found no measurable difference in cannabis consumption rate among teens from 2009 to 2019, an era during which millions began living in a state with legal recreational and medical marijuana.

From 2009 to 2019, the number of teens nationwide who said they had used cannabis in the previous 30 days went from 21 percent to 22 percent. The NCES survey focused on students in the 9th through 12th grades.

The Colorado survey also saw a drop in cannabis use with middle schoolers, with 3 percent saying they had tried marijuana in the previous 30 days, down from 5.2 percent in 2019.

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