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Federal Survey Shows Marijuana Use Hasn’t Increased Since Legalization

National Marijuana Use Rates

A new federal report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that rates of teen marijuana use in Colorado have still not increased since voters decided to end marijuana prohibition in 2012 and start regulating it similarly to alcohol for adult use.

The CDC’s High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found 19.6% of Colorado students are currently using marijuana compared to 19.8% nationwide, which is down from 21.2% in 2015 and 22% in 2011 (the year before voters approved legalization). The rate of lifetime use dropped to 35.5% in 2017, compared to 35.6% nationwide, and down from 38% in 2015 and 39.5% in 2011.

“After five years of marijuana being legal for adults in Colorado, government surveys continue to find no increase in usage rates among high school students,” said a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “This is very welcome news for Colorado, and it should be particularly welcome news for those who opposed the state’s legalization for fear it would lead to an explosion in teen use. Hopefully it will allay opponents’ concerns in other states where voters or lawmakers are considering proposals to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. Colorado is proof that you can prevent teen marijuana use without arresting thousands of responsible adult marijuana consumers every year. Rather than debating whether marijuana should be legal for adults, let’s focus on how we can regulate it and control it to make it less available to teens.”