Cannabis use among Colorado teens has remained steady since the state legalized the recreational use of the substance, according to new data released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
According to the survey — which was based on a random sample of 17,000 Colorado middle and high school students — only 21 percent of those questioned had used cannabis in the previous 30 days. That number is down from the 25 percent of the same age group that admitted to using cannabis in 2009, five years before the state legalized the substance.
The Colorado health department issued a statement on the findings, saying that they were evidence that the use of cannabis among teens was not widespread.
“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization ,with four of five high school students continuing to say they don’t use marijuana, even occasionally.”
A deeper dive into the numbers finds that students were less likely to use cannabis if they had a trusted parent, or some other adult, who set a positive example in their lives. According to Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the survey showcased the importance of positive reinforcement among children by their parents.
According to Dr. Larry Wolk, the executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the survey showcased the importance of positive reinforcement among children by their parents.
“The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey shows parents who make healthy choices have children who make healthy choices…This comprehensive survey of youth behavior lays out the path to a healthier generation of Coloradans.”
The survey’s findings were not confined to cannabis: The use of other substances — including alcohol and cigarettes — were also found to be in decline among the state’s high schoolers.
Alcohol use among those surveyed was higher than the use of any other substance, with 30.2 percent of respondents reported to have drank alcohol in the past 30 days. However, that number is still slightly lower than the national average, which sits at 32.8 percent.
The use of tobacco products, meanwhile, measures at significantly lower usage among teens: Just 8.6 percent of Colorado high schoolers admit to having used cigarettes in the past 30 days, while 8.9 percent admit to having used cigars. Those numbers are also lower than the national average, which is currently 10.8 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively.
Recent national surveys have found cannabis use among teens to be falling nationwide: A study released last month by the Washington University School of Medicine found that not only is the number of American teens with cannabis-related problems falling, but that the overall number of teens using the substance is falling as well.
However, the new Colorado survey is significant because it represents one of the only data sets to measure cannabis use among teens in a state in which cannabis is legal, such as Colorado, Oregon, or Washington.
The results of the Colorado study were met with praise by pro-cannabis activists. Mason Tvert, the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, issued a statement calling upon the country’s leaders to pay heed to the survey’s findings.
“These statistics clearly debunk the theory that making marijuana legal for adults will result in more teen use… Levels of teen use in Colorado have not increased since it ended marijuana prohibition, and they are lower than the national average. Elected officials and voters in states that are considering similar proposals should be wary of claims that it will hurt teens.”
Do you think that the data proves that cannabis use is not widespread among Colorado high school students? Tell us why on social media or in the comments below.