Annual HHS Survey Finds Marijuana Use Higher in “Legal” States;
Colorado Leads Nation For First Time Adolescent Pot Use
Legal States Use Rates Nearly 45% Higher Than Other States; Alcohol Use Also Up in Colorado
(Alexandria, VA) – More young people are trying marijuana for the first time in Colorado, the first state to allow recreational marijuana, than anywhere else in the nation, according to the nation’s most authoritative study on drugs, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The survey also finds the state is at the top of the list for the lowest perception of risk of using marijuana among teens.
Almost 8% of Colorado teens admitted to using marijuana for the first time last year, compared with 7.9% in Massachusetts, 7.4% in DC and 7.1% in Alaska, all jurisdictions with “legal” marijuana (marijuana remains illegal in the U.S. per the Controlled Substances Act). Past month use of marijuana is double in “legal” states among all age groups, and 45% higher in the 12 to 17 year-old category (9.1% versus 6.3%).
“The effects of legalization are revealing our worst fears,” Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), and a former White House drug policy advisor, said. “Big Pot’s profits-over-people business model is hooking more people on highly potent marijuana gummies, candies, waxes, and blunts while governments look the other way. How many lives have to be affected until we take action?”
Sabet continued, “There should be a moratorium on legalization until we can better understand what is happening. The social harms –increased stoned driving, more youth use, crime, and hospital mentions — keep piling up. We need to stop the bleeding.”
Key findings of the study:
- Past month use of marijuana is noticeably greater in states that have legalized among those 12+ by 7.6% (legal: 16%; non: 8.5%), 12-17 by 2.8% (9.1%; 6.3%), and 18+ by 8.7% (17.4%; 8.7%).
- Past year use of marijuana is noticeably greater in states that have legalized among those 12+ by 10% (legal: 23.48%; non: 13.43%), 12-17 by 3.7% (15.7%; 12%), and 18+ by 10.5% (24.1%; 13.6%).
- In 2017, past month marijuana use among 12-17 year-olds was highest in Vermont (10.75%), followed by Oregon (10.35%).
- In 2017, past year marijuana use among 12-17 year-olds was highest in Vermont (17.88%), followed by Oregon (17.01%).
- In 2017, perception of great risk from smoking marijuana once a month among 12-17 year-olds was lowest in Colorado (16.21%), followed by Oregon (16.84%).
- Washington saw a significant increase among 12+ and 18+ year-olds reporting both past month and year use in 2017, compared to 2016
- Oregon saw a significant increase among 12+ and 18+ year-olds reporting both past month and year use in 2017, compared to 2016.
- D.C. saw a significant increase among 12+ and 18+ year-olds reporting past month use in 2017, compared to 2016
- California saw a significant increase among 12+ and 18+ year-olds reporting both past month and year use in 2017, compared to 2016.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. Evidence shows that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain is addictive and harmful to the human brain especially when used by adolescents. In states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes, youth marijuana use, and costs that far outweigh pot revenues.These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, a black market that continues to thrive, sustained disparities in marijuana arrest rates, and tobacco company investment in marijuana.