This past week, the annual HHS National Survey on Drug Use and Health was released. This report asks people in households about their drug use. It focuses on the age group of 12 and over, and breaks down categories among people ages 12-to-17, 18-to-25 and 26 and older.
The Washington Post and other sources reported that “drug use is down” because of the observed trend that the same proportion of 12 to 17 year-olds were using marijuana (around 7.1%).
But journalists and others who claim a leveling or decrease of the numbers appear to have read only the report’s headlines and high-level summaries. If they had read the data, they would have seen that from 2012 and 2013, when age groups were broken down further, a more accurate statement would be this: among 12 to 15 year-olds, marijuana use appears steady, but among 16 to 25 year-olds, marijuana use is going up.