Study Shows No Increase in Colorado Teen Use After Legalization

Jun 20, 2016

CDPHE, CO, Colorado, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, HKCS, teen use

Rates of marijuana use among Colorado teens have NOT increased since the state made marijuana legal for adults, according to results of a statewide survey released Monday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado teens also continue to be lower than the national average.HKCSB1

“The survey shows marijuana use has not increased since legalization,” according to a CDPHE press release.

The biannual Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) found that 21.2% of high school students in Colorado reported using marijuana within the past 30 days in 2015, down slightly from 22% in 2011, the year before Amendment 64 was approved and enacted, and 24.8% in 2009, the year hundreds of medical marijuana stores began opening throughout the state. The HKCS also found that the rate of lifetime use among Colorado high school students dropped from 42.6% in 2009 to 38% in 2015. The decreases do not represent statistically significant changes, and the state agencies that support the survey have reported, “The trend for current and lifetime marijuana use has remained stable since 2005.”
Nationwide, 21.7% of high school students used marijuana in the past 30 days and 38.6% had used it during their life, according to results of the 2015 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) released earlier this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The executive summary for the 2015 HKCS notes, “Colorado does not significantly differ from the national average in lifetime or current marijuana use.”

The HKCS also found a slight drop in the percentage of Colorado high school students who reported using marijuana at school (from 6% in 2011 to 4.4% in 2015), and a very slight increase in the percentage of students who believe it is wrong for someone their age to use marijuana (from 60% in 2011 to 60.6% in 2015).

The HKCS is “the state’s only comprehensive survey on the health, well-being and resiliency of young people in Colorado,” according to the CDPHE.