After analyzing the latest survey results, Colorado researchers have concluded that cannabis use among the state's teenagers remains flat. Although every fifth teenager in Colorado has consumed marijuana in the past month, the rate has not increased since cannabis legalization, the state Health Department reports.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has recently released the results of the biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) conducted last year. The survey collects anonymous reports from the state's middle and high school students. Last year, about 17,000 teens studying in more than 157 Colorado schools participated in the HKCS on a self-reported and randomly selected basis.
The state researchers not only investigated teen marijuana use but also collected information about consumption of other drugs by young people:
Comparing to the 2013 HKCS results, cannabis consumption among teens grows insignificantly against the increasingly growing marijuana market in Colorado.
The 2015 HKCS revealed 21.2% of teens had consumed cannabis in the past month, which is statistically insignificant comparing to 19.7% in 2013. The researchers explained this increase as a wiggle in the statistical data, not meaningful growth. There is also a noticeable decline from the 24.8% in 2009 when medical dispensaries began to flourish across the state.
The number of survey respondents who have never consumed marijuana was estimated at 62% in 2015. This figure remained stable in comparison with the rate of the previous years. Thus, in 2009, the rate of Colorado students who did not use cannabis even once was 42.6%, but in 2015 it was 38%.
The problem of cannabis use among the Colorado youth attracted the national attention in 2012 when state citizens voted for the legalization of marijuana possession by any adults over 21 years old. There is a large web of medical cannabis dispensaries across the state that sell medical marijuana to Coloradans with medical pot cards.
The HKCS respondents explained their access to marijuana as “someone gave it to me” and “got it some other way.” Only 11% of surveyed teens said they bought medical cannabis by using their own medical pot cards or received it from someone with a cannabis card.
The fact that marijuana legalization has not increased cannabis consumption among teens is also confirmed by a national survey carried out by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). The findings of their latest survey showed that 21.7 percent of teens nationwide had used marijuana in the past month, while in 2013, that rate reached 23.4%.
Colorado does not take part in the YRBSS, and the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is perhaps the most relevant source of information on teen marijuana use in the state.