Marijuana Use Continues Rapid Decline Among Younger Teens

no_marijuanaSelf-reported marijuana use continues to fall among younger teens, according to federally commissioned, nationwide survey data compiled by the University of Michigan.

Results from the 2016 edition of the Monitoring the Future survey find that marijuana use by 8th-graders and 10th-graders is declining year by year. Further, a greater percentage of younger teens now say that their ability to obtain marijuana is more difficult than ever before.

Marijuana use patterns among 12th-graders have held steady since 2011, the survey reported.

Approximately 50,000 students are surveyed annually as part of the University of Michigan study.

Since the mid-1990s, self-reported lifetime use of cannabis has fallen 44 percent among 8th-graders, 30 percent among 10th-graders, and ten percent among 12th-graders. Twenty-nine states have legalized the medical use of cannabis, and eight of those states have also regulated the adult use of marijuana, since that time.

Overall, teens’ self-reported use of alcohol and/or any illicit substance aside from marijuana is at a historic low.

Previous federally funded surveys by the US Centers for Disease Control and others have similarly reported that changes in statewide marijuana laws are not associated with rising levels of youth use.

25 thoughts

  1. Thanks, Paul, for the information.

    But, is this information good news, or bad news? The implication here is that it is good news — the prohibitionists claimed that teen use would go up under legalization, yet this is not proving to be true. Should we celebrate this news? Not necessarily.

    I would like to make a serious point regarding one of the most egregious aspects of marijuana prohibition: child abduction.

    There are a few reasons why we legalizer-types should challenge the notion that marijuana use by teens represents a social problem to be avoided.

    First, it’s obviously not true. Odds are, that’s when YOU (the reader) first tried pot, remember? As a teenager. When you decided you were ready. That’s nearly all of us — that’s how it works. It’s NORML! It’s part of growing up; that’s what we want teenagers to do! So out of respect for intellectual honesty, and scientific objectivity, we should refute this notion that marijuana use is somehow necessarily bad for teenagers.

    Second, marijuana is effective and safe medicine, that’s a fact. Teens should not be denied a safe and effective medicine, that’s also a fact. That’s a human-rights violation, by the way. The logic is air-tight.

    But third, and perhaps most importantly, we need to stop the state from stealing people’s kids over their parents’ marijuana use! If we don’t refute the lie that marijuana is dangerous to kids, we simply aren’t doing enough to protect our children from state-sanctioned kidnappers.

    This is an issue we aren’t going to be able to avoid; we must get on the right side now, for the safety of our children.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thank you for your thoughtful discussion. In a “post-fact” world of misinformation and lies this is why its important for us to hold public discussion with elevated and well researched information not only to review with our peers here on this blog but in town hall style local settings where doctors and medical professionals from in and out of the marijuana community can help educate school boards, city councils, state and local legislators. Education is our greatest weapon, whether were dealing with our child’s football coach, the electoral college or a pathological liar for a President.
      With that said, you are correct that consuming marijuana is an important “right of passage” to healthy adulthood in American society. You are right if you believe as I do that forcing teenagers or children to testify against their own parents for nonviolent marijuana possession is a form of state sanctioned domestic terror. As Ive said before on this blog, if my town expects our teenage sons to take a concussion without a medical professional on payroll for our Friday night football entertainment he can damn well smoke a joint with his teammates on school grounds before and after the game.
      However the study in review in this blog is GOOD news for several reasons, none-the-least of which that it was federally reviewed and defuses prohibitionists greatest scare tactic.
      For those of us who are deeply committed and passionate activists, we must not forget what it is like for people who still believe the gateway theory or simply refuse to surrender the fear of jail and arrest record of their children over scientific wisdom. For them, Longitudinal state legalization is the only way to unplug their hearts and uncover their minds. These pesky facts have a way of surfacing under the most intense supression; Allow me to share with you some interesting data I dug up in my next post:

      1. From the Colorado Bureau of Investigations 2015 Missing Children’s Project:

        “A total of 10,398 reports [of missing children in the state of Colorado] were received in 2015. This is represents a slight drop from the previous year’s 10,637.”

        In the following link from 2008, (before marijuana legalization) notice the increase in child abductions dating back to 1996:

        Number of reported missing children in Colorado 2008: 13,933

        Considering the population growth in Colorado, these statistics are amazing. Child abduction has been steadily decreasing despite massive state to state immigration. (Perhaps you could contact the MCP and ask why the critical years between 2009 and 2013, during state legalization, are missing from their website?)

        The struggle is the Glory.

      2. I suspect you understood when I said “child abductions” I was talking about the cops, and the CPS agencies. But I do find it interesting to see these stats on “non-legal” abductions. Thanks for sharing that. Heartbreaking, how our kids are always our pawns in our sick little adult games.

        But, it seems everything in society gets a little better with legalization, and it’s more than a perception!

      3. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said here, so I’m not argumentative; but I am still troubled when I hear proponents of reform touting a legalization victory by saying, “It regulates the cannabis market for adults, while simultaneously PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN.”

        I do understand, and agree with, the political strategy of limiting the legalization initiatives to that which is politically feasible. It’s unrealistic to expect there will be no age restrictions for cannabis purchases, given where we are culturally. As Keith Stroup has pointed out on this blog before, there are many issues associated with marijuana prohibition (child custody, employment drug testing, etc) which certainly will need to be addressed; but stopping the arrests was the logical first priority.

        So I think we need the age restrictions in the bill; but to your point about education, we don’t need to promote the false notion that the kids were ever at risk from cannabis in the first place!

        I might have said, “This legislation regulates the cannabis market for adults, with strict age limits for minors to accommodate the concerns of those who are unfamiliar with the natural herb’s health benefits and proven safety record for human consumption.”

      4. May I just add: We don’t live in a “post-fact” world and never will (I understand you meant it ironically.)

        The facts are still there. One can dismiss a fact, but it doesn’t go away as a result. What we have here is a wholesale, willful ignorance of facts.

        But I wouldn’t advise anyone to ignore a fact. The facts will bite you on the ass if you challenge them — that’s what makes them facts!

    2. I agree, in Germany the legal drinking age is 16, but we all know this is beyond our nanny state. Of course there are concerns with the vulnerability of a developing mind. However I would not be the person I am today if I had not found Cannabis as a teenager.

  2. Unfortunately, we live in an era where facts don’t matter. The DEA, Jeff Sessions, et al, could care less and will completely ignore this or simply declare it fake news and continue the madness.

    1. Facts DO matter. But we’re dealing with a society with a mainstream culture chock-full of the most blatant of lies! That, too, is a fact that should be central to our thinking when we are making our plans for resistance.

      As you said, liars “ignore” the facts; but they do have an agenda, and their lies are constructed for us, not them. The lies are only there to distract and divert us from interfering with their agenda of screwing us!

  3. I 100% disagree with Mark M.

    Not all of us started smoking as a teenager.

    Teenager brains can be harmed by Marijuana just like it can by other substances such as alcohol.

    THEY ARE CHILDREN still developing physically.

    This is mostly good news. Keep that hammer banging on DEA until you win Paul. Thanks for fighting for our cause.

    1. You’re saying marijuana harms teenagers brains like alcohol; but saying it’s so doesn’t make it so. I don’t think you have the facts to back up your opinions. Where’s your evidence?

    2. Looks like you bought the 99% lie that “marijuana” or THC is to blame for harm which turns out to be caused by $moking (heat shock, carbon monoxide, 4221 Combu$tion toxins).
      Re: next comment by @moldy, Do write to AARP describing how, yes, it’s a brain thing– cannabis helps us geezers REMEMBER the next interesting fascinating smooth firm gentle items in our LEEP Lifespan Extension Exercise Program. (And the next relevant economic and political activities the exercises also are preparing us for, plenty of info on this website about those.)

  4. Well, the young folk don’t need it like us old bastards. It’s good to hear that the numbers are dropping as this is the only thing left that the Sabets of the world have going for them.

    On another note while reading in my AARP mag they stated that “you probably won’t be damaged by the pot use when you were young” and not to worry. WTF! A magazine for seniors and they’re putting down cannabis consumption? I can’t quit them as I have insurance with them so my question to you Paul…

    Can look into getting AARP to side with cannabis use in seniors? How can we change (or shame) those big pharma pushers into telling the truth to old people?? I’m really sick of it and know a lot of older folks that would be much better off using weed.

  5. Isn’t it likely that this drop in admitted cannabis use by young persons represents a reaction to the on-growing officious terrorism of sneak high-tech “drug” testing which threatens lifetime career earnings potential and antagonizes parents (“Soon we’ll die and you can do anything you damn please”)?
    The remaining higher use among 12th graders might be explained by their increased experience and the development of a “hard core” of independent-careerists among them who no longer feel their career future depends on avoiding detection and retaining employability.

    1. For teenagers, “Reefer Madness” is alive and well. Drug testing is dehumanizing. For kids, it’s child abuse. For adults, it’s adult abuse! Way to fuck up the minds of the next generation, America!

    2. Mexweed, you have an interesting way of phrasing things, and a deep wisdom. I like the concept of “hard core independent-careerists” who “no longer feel their career future depends on avoiding detection and retaining employability.”

      If there is one thing I wish I could convey to young working Americans (and older ones, too, for that matter) is that you DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE TO BE A SLAVE TO CORPORATE AMERICA.

      That’s why I’m a janitor. People laugh, because they just don’t get it. But you can walk away from a janitor’s job if they try to drug test you. That’s not true for a lot of other jobs. I don’t hide anymore.

      Sadly, most people can’t wait to sell their bodies to Corporate America. But they don’t have the wisdom to see that they are losing more than they are gaining.

      My life is my own. And I smoke a hell of a lot of hash! I can’t afford middle-class diversions like movies and restaurants, but I’m very satisfied with that trade-off.

      Thanks for making that important point: we work to live, not live to work!

      1. Thanks for good points. Looks like, like me, you know how to get by on low pay by not buying corporate crapaholic substitutes for cannabis from Bixbox Highstores. Yes, also I don’t miss movies anymore, my $10 radio works pretty good while hands keep bizzy doing interesting stuff.

      2. Yes, that’s right. You could say I’ve lost my faith in “Consumerism.”

        People work so hard for their money; then their faith in Consumerism tells them they are entitled to consumer satisfaction when they spend that money. But I look around, and I see people who are spending that money, getting ripped off by The Man; but then they take it out on the poor underpaid, overworked, abuse-saturated clerk behind the counter. And I know the feeling first-hand, because when I was a believer in Consumerism, I did the same thing.

        Alcoholic sobriety, and lots of cannabis, helped to bring me out of that false belief system. You would think getting burned over and over would do it; but it doesn’t seem to.

        By the way: “corporate crapaholic substitutes for cannabis, from Bixbox Highstores?” Indeed. That’s pure poetry.

  6. NORML has fallen into the trap with this argument once again by implicitly presenting the lack of teen use of marijuana as a good thing. It is an irrelevance or maybe even a bad thing.

    Teens using any drug is an indicator of other problems NOT an innate danger of cannabis or it’s regulation. In fact if teenage delinquency does lead to drug use I would much rather it be cannabis than alcohol or anything else.

    It could be argued that anything that reduces access to cannabis is potentially dangerous because it may lead to people abusing more harmful substances. This is also often a consequence of other cannabis prohibitions measures such as drug testing.

    1. When I was a teen growing up in rural Kentucky, I could get all the beer, whiskey and cigarettes I wanted. Pot was much harder to get, and so mainly I drank and smoked cigarettes. Imagine the overall health improvement of that entire generation of kids, if the situation had been reversed — cannabis being reasonably easy to get, and booze and cigarettes being more rarely used. You probably would find a big reduction in cancer and other health issues, later on in life for that generation. Wouldn’t you think so?

      1. Bravo @Mark, and I hope you can put some time into researching this substitution issue, especially since Pr.Elect Trump has spoken of what he learned from tragic example of older brother dead age 43, from addiction to booze and $igarettes, which Donald says he never uses.
        Perhaps you can find the words to address Sen. Sessions and other cabinet member designates– e.g. remind them of 2014 Surgeon General estimate “tobacco-related illnesses” cost US economy $289-bil/year. Meanwhile much alleged “cost” of cannabis is bonan$$a “earned” by drug “therapy” institution biznesses to which juveniles are “referred” by juridicial terror (jail avoidance option), etc. etc.

    1. I checked out the link… the author is some kind of financial advisor, and is saying much of what some Trump apologists on this blog have suggested — that the money will convince Trump to hold Sessions on a leash.

      He could be right; but, it seems like wishful thinking to me. He says there are four reasons Trump will stop Sessions, Trump’s own choice for AG, from hurting the industry:

      1) Money. His reasoning: Trump likes money, likes to see rich people getting richer. My response: it’s not his money, so he won’t give a fuck. Besides, he’s got EXXON in his pocket now! They’ve got their own CIA, for fucks sake. We’re small competition, to those guys. They don’t want or need us.
      2) Taxes. His reasoning: legal cannabis is bringing in enormous taxes, and the genie is out of the bottle, too BIG for Sessions to put back! My response: Nonsense. Sessions can’t undo state legalization, but he certainly can shut down the dispensaries without much trouble. It doesn’t take a lot of money, just a bunch of DEA agents with automatic assault rifles.
      3) Jobs. His reasoning: Trump ran for president on a pledge to bring back jobs, and the cannabis industry is providing new jobs. My response: Trump’s campaign pledges are worth shit. He’s now bragging about the fact that it was all bullshit, have you noticed? He’s saying, “I said it because it worked, not because it was true.” He’s not there to govern, he’s there to get rich personally.
      4) Public Support. His reasoning: public support for legalization is at 60 percent, and Trump likes polls. He will need the public support. My response: Oh, please. He won the goddamn election. The scam is over! Now he’s about to collect his illegitimate gains, for the next four to eight years. He’s never given a shit about offending anyone, much less hurting them. He lost the popular vote: think he gives a shit? Hell no.

      I would love to be wrong about all this, but I call it like I see it.

      1. Unfortunately Oracle, Mark’s analysis is spot on. Becareful that investors are always painting an optimistic picture for their investors/shareholders. Investment helps our cause but never put all your buds in one basket, especially with Budraider Sessions about to take asset forfeitures to a new low in American history. The Rorhabacker-Farr amendment will slow the raids down on dispensaries until April. And I agree with Pres. Obama that marijuana enforcement will be “untenable” as California, Nevada, Mass. and Maine open up. We’ll be playing a game of card shuffle and bluff until Progressives pull some viable Congressional candidates for 2018.
        Trump has deep ties to the mafia and prohibition. Things are gonna get worse before they get better.

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