school lockers

Colorado Teen Cannabis Usage Rates Have Dropped 42% Since Legalization

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment conducts a biannual ‘Healthy Kids Colorado Survey’ in which it asks high school students about cannabis use. The results of the 2023 survey are now available via the survey’s interactive dashboard.

“The survey found that 12.8% of high school students in Colorado reported using cannabis in the past 30 days, down from 13.3% in 2021. This also represents a nearly 42% decrease since 2011, the year prior to the legalization of cannabis for adults 21 and older in Colorado.” Steamboat Pilot & Today stated in its initial coverage about the survey’s results.

“Nationwide, 16% of high school students reported using cannabis in the past 30 days, according to the latest results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.” the outlet also stated. “The survey also found a record high 70.2% of high school students think it would be wrong for someone their age to use marijuana, up from about 60% in 2011 and 2013.”

The Colorado data builds on separate research recently published by the American Medical Association, and initially reported by Marijuana Moment, which found “no evidence” of increased cannabis use by youth in legalized states.

The researchers that led the analysis were associated with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University (Bozeman), the Department of Economics at San Diego State University, and the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies at San Diego State University. The research was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“In this repeated cross-sectional study, there was no evidence that recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) were associated with encouraging youth marijuana use,” the researchers stated. “After legalization, there was no evidence of an increase in marijuana use.”

“Estimates based on the state YRBS and estimates of the association between the first dispensary opening and marijuana use were qualitatively similar,” the researchers also stated.

The research effort was the largest to-date of its kind, involving pre and post-legalization data from 12 different states, nine of which contributed data from before and after retail adult-use cannabis sales began. The research effort also incorporated data from 36 states without adult-use cannabis laws at the time the data was collected, and involved 207,781 respondents.

Findings from the national study are in-line with the findings of a previous, somewhat less-robust study which also determined that neither adult-use legalization nor the opening of recreational dispensaries in U.S. states led to increases in youth cannabis use.