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Federal Survey: Teen Marijuana Use Down in Colorado and Washington, Now Lower Than it Was Prior to Legalization

According to survey data released by the federal government on Monday, the current rate of marijuana use among Colorado and Washington teens is now lower than it was prior to the states legalizing marijuana for adult use.

The rate of past-month marijuana use by individuals ages 12-17 dropped nearly 20% from 11.13% in 2014-2015 to 9.08% in 2015-2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is now lower than it was in 2011-2012 (10.47%) and 2012-2013 (11.16%). Marijuana became legal for adults 21 and older in December 2012, and legal adult marijuana sales began in January 2014.

The rate of past-month marijuana use among 12-17-year-olds also dropped in Washington (from 9.17% in 2014-2015 to 7.93% in 2015-2016), and it is now lower than it was prior to legalization in 2012 (9.45% in 2011-2012 and 9.81% in 2012-2013).

“Colorado is effectively regulating marijuana for adult use”, says Brian Vicente, partner at Vicente Sederberg LLC, who was one of the lead drafters of Amendment 64 and co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana. There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs. The days of arresting thousands of adults in order to prevent teens from using marijuana are over.”

Vicente continues; “These survey results should come as welcome news to anyone who worried teen marijuana use would increase following legalization. As a proponent of Amendment 64 and a parent of two young children, they certainly came as welcome news to me.”

About Anthony Martinelli

Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.

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