A new report from the Colorado State Health Department indicated that 21.2 percent of the approximately 17,000 teens in the state surveyed in 2015 had consumed marijuana in the last month prior to being polled. That was down from 22.0 percent in a survey in 2011, the year before Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use for people over age 21. The report further noted that the rate of marijuana use by the teens in Colorado has remained in line with the national use by teens (21.7%), even though Colorado is one of one three states and the District of Columbia to have legal recreational cannabis.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment conducts the survey every other year to monitor substance use by children 12-17 as part of a broader survey to better understand the health and wellbeing of middle and high school students.
On the other hand, 62% of Colorado high school students said that they had never used marijuana in their lives. On the part of other drugs, 30% of the kids survey claimed that they had consumed alcohol in the last month. In the survey report, cigarettes use by the teen was on the lower side, as less than 10% of the surveyed kids claimed to have smoked cigarettes regularly.
Around 14% of kids in Colorado claimed that they used pharmaceutical products without a prescription from a medical doctor. This was below the national average. Colorado teens exceeded the national average when it came to using cocaine or ecstasy, with about 6% admitting to usage.
The good news about the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is that the use of marijuana in the state has remained relatively constant from the last survey. This data comes in spite of earlier speculations by drug abuse experts forecasting that marijuana use amongst teens would spike after the plant had been legalized. Anti-cannabis advocates argued that legalization would encourage widespread use by the underage.
In other states like Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, voters have already approved the sale of recreational marijuana to adults. However, Colorado was the trendsetter in opening its first marijuana shops in 2014 ahead of its counterparts.
As with any survey, there were arguments to both sides. Mason Tvert, the spokesperson for a pro-marijuana legalization group Marijuana Policy Project, said the survey deflated any predictions that teen marijuana use would climb with full legalization in the state.
On the other side of the coin, Diane Carlson of SMART Colorado, an organization operating under the tagline “Protecting Youth from Marijuana,” says that data from a federal survey last year showed Colorado to have the highest percentage of youth marijuana users in the country.
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