Teenage Use

Teenage Use

A commonly expressed concern brought up in discussion regarding the allowance a cannabis dispensary to open up is that underage consumption will increase. There is an abundance of research and data that has been released since the legalization of marijuana that actually expels this belief. National survey results from the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) have shown a downward trend in teen marijuana use rates from the time states legalize recreational marijuana use. Results from the 2012 survey showed that 13.5 percent of respondents aged 12-17 admitted to using marijuana. Results from the 2018 survey revealed that this has declined by 10 percent (Jaeger, 2019).

This 10 percent decline has been observed in Washington State specifically since 2014. Therefore, states that have legalized marijuana, and regulated distribution of it have seen underage use decrease rather than increase. Legalizing and regulating marijuana makes it more difficult and expensive for teens to buy from licensed dispensaries rather than from dealers.

Julie Holland, MD, in her book that discusses the role cannabis plays in medicine, politics, science, and culture, uses data gathered from research done in California where teenage use has declined since medical marijuana has been legalized, to prove that, “…making a drug more available in a specific framework does not necessarily yield rampant abuse of that drug,” (Holland, 2010).

Even more relevant is the data collected by Clark County. Results obtained from the 2012 and 2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey regarding marijuana use in Clark County show a decline in underage usage, refer to Figure 2.1. The survey was administered to students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade. You can see from the bar graphs that there was a 1% decrease for 8th graders and a 4% decrease for students in the 10th grade who reported using marijuana at least once in their lifetime. For current marijuana use, students who reported using marijuana at least once in the past month decreased for 8th graders by 1% and for 10th graders decreased by 2%. Rates decrease by the same amount under heavy marijuana use for students who reported using marijuana on 10 or more days in the past month. These minor changes may seem irrelevant but represent nearly 540 students.


Figure 2.1:

Data specifically gathered from Camas School District from this same survey can be compared to the county average. For current marijuana use, 9% of 10th graders reported using marijuana at least once in the past month, Figure 2.2. This is more than 50% of the Clark County average that is at 17%. Additionally, 28% of 12th graders also reported using marijuana at least once in the past thirty days, refer to Figure 2.2. This is higher than the average for Clark County as a whole which is sitting just 1% lower at 27%.


Figure 2.2:

Source: Jaeger, Kyle. “Federal Data Shows Youth Marijuana Use Isn’t Increasing Under Legalization.” Marijuana Moment, 20 Aug. 2019.

Source: Holland, Julie. The Pot Book: a Complete Guide to Cannabis: Its Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture. Park Street Press, 2010.

Source: Marijuana Use for Clark County in 2012? Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, 2012, Marijuana Use for Clark County in 2012?

Source: Marijuana Use for Clark County in 2018? Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, 2018, Marijuana Use for Clark County in 2018?

Source: Jaeger, Kyle. “Federal Data Shows Youth Marijuana Use Isn’t Increasing Under Legalization.” Marijuana Moment, 20 Aug. 2019.

Source: Holland, Julie. The Pot Book: a Complete Guide to Cannabis: Its Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture. Park Street Press, 2010.

Source: Analytics, Looking Glass. HYS Fact Sheets.

Source: Analytics, Looking Glass. HYS Fact Sheets.