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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 15, 2016

    no_marijuanaSelf-reported marijuana use continues to fall among younger teens, according to federally commissioned, nationwide survey data compiled by the University of Michigan.

    Results from the 2016 edition of the Monitoring the Future survey find that marijuana use by 8th-graders and 10th-graders is declining year by year. Further, a greater percentage of younger teens now say that their ability to obtain marijuana is more difficult than ever before.

    Marijuana use patterns among 12th-graders have held steady since 2011, the survey reported.

    Approximately 50,000 students are surveyed annually as part of the University of Michigan study.

    Since the mid-1990s, self-reported lifetime use of cannabis has fallen 44 percent among 8th-graders, 30 percent among 10th-graders, and ten percent among 12th-graders. Twenty-nine states have legalized the medical use of cannabis, and eight of those states have also regulated the adult use of marijuana, since that time.

    Overall, teens’ self-reported use of alcohol and/or any illicit substance aside from marijuana is at a historic low.

    Previous federally funded surveys by the US Centers for Disease Control and others have similarly reported that changes in statewide marijuana laws are not associated with rising levels of youth use.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 26, 2016

    no_marijuanaFewer adolescents are consuming cannabis; among those who do, fewer are engaging in problematic use of the plant, according to newly published data in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

    Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis evaluated government survey data on adolescents’ self-reported drug use during the years 2002 to 2013. Over 216,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 participated in the federally commissioned surveys.

    Researchers reported that the percentage of respondents who said that they had used cannabis over the past year fell by ten percent during the study period. The number of adolescents reporting problems related to marijuana, such as engaging in habitual use of the plant, declined by 24 percent from 2002 to 2013.

    The study’s lead author acknowledged that the declines in marijuana use and abuse were “substantial.”

    The study’s findings are consistent with previous evaluations reporting decreased marijuana use and abuse by young people over the past decade and a half — a period of time during which numerous states have liberalized their marijuana policies.

    An abstract of the new study, “Declining prevalence of marijuana use disorders among adolescents in the United States, 2002 to 2013,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 21, 2015

    Self-reported use of marijuana by high-school students is significantly lower today than it was 15 years ago, according to an analysis of CDC data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore assessed data compiled by US Center for Disease Control’s National Youth Risk Behavior Survey for the years 1999 to 2013. The Survey is a biennial school-based evaluation of more than 100,000 high-schoolers nationwide.

    Investigators reported that lifetime use of cannabis fell during this period. The percentage of respondents reporting monthly marijuana consumption and/or use any use of cannabis prior to age 13 also declined.

    “People have been very quick to say that marijuana use is going up and up and up in this country, particularly now that marijuana has become more normalized,” study leader Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School said in a press release. “What we are seeing is that … the rates of marijuana use have actually fallen.”

    The study is the latest in a series of recent evaluations — including this one here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here — concluding that changes in state marijuana policies are not associated with increased marijuana use by young people.

    Moreover, just-released results from a separate University of Texas study assessing trends in the disapproval of marijuana by young people also reports “a significant increase in the proportion of youth (age 12 to 14) reporting ‘strong disapproval’ of marijuana use initiation over the last decade.” Similar to the findings of prior studies, the paper also reports that teens’ lifetime and past year use of marijuana has declined significantly over the past decade.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 11, 2015

    Teen Marijuana Use FlatCurrent use of marijuana by those between the ages of 12 to 17 has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, while young people’s self-reported consumption of alcohol and cigarettes has fallen to record lows, according to federal data compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the percentage of respondents ages 12 to 17 who reported past-month use of marijuana remained steady from 7.6 percent in 2004 to 7.4 percent in 2014. By contrast, teens’ use of tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol fell dramatically during this same period. Over the past ten years, adolescents’ use of tobacco fell from 14.4 percent to 7 percent, their use of cigarettes fell from 11.9 percent to 4.9 percent, and their use of alcohol fell from 17.6 percent to 11.5 percent. Binge drinking by young people fell from 11.1 percent in 2004 to 6.1 percent in 2014.

    Self-reported marijuana use by older respondents, particularly among those age 26 and older has increased in recent years. By contrast, since 2012, when voters in Colorado and Washington decided to permit the commercial production and sale of cannabis to adults, youth marijuana use in the past 30 days is virtually unchanged (7.2 percent in 2012, 7.4 percent in 2014).

    Of all estimated past-month illicit drug consumers, 82 percent are users of marijuana, the survey reported.

    The data once again undermines the concern that liberalizing marijuana laws for adults will inherently increase youth marijuana use and indicates that a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults but restricts its use among young people — coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis’ potential harms — best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse.

    Nonetheless, marijuana law reform opponents are refusing to acknowledge these positive trends, instead falsely stating that marijuana use is “continuing to rise among youth.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 9, 2015

    Changes in marijuana laws are not associated with increased use of the substance by teens, according to data compiled by Washington’ Healthy Youth Survey and published by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy.

    State survey results from the years 2002 to 2014 show little change in cannabis consumption by Washington teens despite the passage of laws permitting and expanding the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes during this time.

    Self-reported marijuana use fell slightly among 8th graders, 10th graders, and 12th graders during this period. Young people’ self-reported access to cannabis also remained largely unchanged during this time period, although more 8th graders now report that marijuana is “hard to get.”

    The passage of voter-initiated legislation legalizing the adult use of cannabis in 2012 is also not to associated with any increase in consumption by youth. Between 2012 and 2014, self-reported lifetime marijuana use and/or use within the past 30 days either stayed stable or fell among all of the age groups surveyed.

    The report concluded, “[C]annabis use and access among students in 6th through 12th grades have changed little from 2002 through the most recent survey in 2014.”

    The findings are consistent with those of previous assessments acknowledging that liberalizing state marijuana laws does not stimulate increased use among young people.

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