Washington: Marijuana Use By Young People Largely Unchanged Post-Legalization, Survey Says

Olympia, WA: The percentage of young people consuming marijuana has not been adversely impacted by changes in state law regulating its adult use and distribution, according to 2016 data compiled by Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Results from the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey, which surveys over 230,000 students in grades 6 through 12, “rates of teen marijuana use have remained steady” post legalization. The Department issued similar findings when they last published the survey in 2015.

By contrast, a separate review of national survey data in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in February reported a slight uptick in self-reported, past-month marijuana use among Washington 8th graders and 10th graders, but not among 12th graders, in the years 2013 to 2015. That same analysis, which reviewed national survey data compiled by Monitoring the Future, reported no increased use among 8th graders, 10th graders, or 12th graders in Colorado.

Nationally, self-reported cannabis use by high-schoolers has fallen significantly since the late 1990s, despite multiple states liberalizing their marijuana laws and penalties during this same time period. “We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful [and] that [accessibility and use] would go up,” Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in December. “But it hasn’t gone up.”

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org or Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.