Marijuana use by adolescents continues to decline in California, according to statewide data provided by the California Healthy Kids Survey, a biennial survey funded by the Departments of Health and Education.
Among 7th graders, 4.2 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 7.9 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-47 percent). Among 9thgraders, 17.4 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 23.1 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-25 percent). Among 11th graders, 31.9 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 37.9 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-16 percent).
“These initial reports confirm that legalizing and regulating cannabis doesn’t increase youth marijuana use, but rather it has the opposite effect,” said Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML. “The fact that the biggest drop in reported use came from younger age groups is a particularly encouraging indicator of the success of regulation.”
“It’s time to stop trying to ‘send a message’ to young people about drugs and instead implement sound, science-based policies that best protect our children and public safety, along with our privacy and human rights,” concluded Komp.
The percentage of teens reporting using cannabis multiple times and/or repeatedly within the past 30 days also declined for all age groups.
California law legalized the adult use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by adults in November of 2016. Retail adult use marijuana sales did not go into effect until January 1, 2018.
The findings are consistent with those of other studies and surveys from other states finding that the enactment of adult marijuana use laws is not associated with upticks in young people’s use of marijuana or access to the substance.
Full text of the study, “School Climate, Substance Use, and Well-being Among California Students: 2015-2017,” appears online here.