State-level data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most authoritative study on drug use conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), finds that marijuana use in “legal” states among youth, young adults, and the general population continued its multi-year upward trend in several categories.
Additionally, use rates in “legal” states continue to drastically outstrip the use in states that have not legalized the drug. Highlights include:
- Past-month marijuana use among young people aged 18-25 in “legal” states has increased over 4 percent in the last year (32.19% versus 30.84%). Use in this age group is 55 percent higher in “legal” states than in non-legal states (30.94% versus 20.66%).
- Past-month youth use (aged 12-17) in states with commercial sales continued its recent upward trend. Since last year, “legal” Washington experienced the largest surge in past month youth use with an 11 percent increase (9.94% versus 8.96%). Colorado experienced a four percent increase (9.39% versus 9.02%).
- Past-month youth use in “legal” states is 50% higher than in non-legal states (9.39% versus 6.26%). Past-year youth use in “legal” states is roughly 35% higher than in non-legal states (16.35% versus 12.10%).
- First-time youth use in “legal” states is more than 36% higher than non-legal states (7.35% versus 5.38%)
“This data show the marijuana industry is achieving its goal of hooking our kids on today’s highly potent marijuana,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “As we learned just this week from the Monitoring the Future survey, the number of young people who perceive marijuana as being harmful is at a historic low. Given the recent data linking high potency marijuana with serious mental health issues, addiction, and future substance abuse, this is extremely concerning. We call on Congress and the President now to stop helping the pot industry and commence a science based information campaign about the dangers of today’s marijuana products.”
Research has shown that the adolescent brain – particularly the part of the brain that regulates planning for complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making and social behavior – is not fully developed until the early to mid-20s. Developing brains are especially susceptible to all of the negative effects of marijuana and other drug use. Given the drastic increase in marijuana use we are witnessing in this age group in “legalized” states, there should be great cause for concern.
“This data, combined with yesterday’s Monitoring the Future study, and the statements from the overwhelming majority of doctors, educators, substance abuse professionals and parents, must be our guide to changing the current discourse,” continued Dr. Sabet. “We cannot allow Big Marijuana to continue to deceive the American people for their bottom line.”