Marijuana and Teens

Federally funded survey data provided by the University of Michigan reports that rates of teen marijuana use remain near historic lows.

Consistent with data provided last month by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA), the University’s annual Monitoring the Future survey reports that fewer young people are consuming cannabis today than were prior to the COVID pandemic.

“The percentage of youth who have used marijuana had not returned to pre-pandemic, 2020
levels by 2023,” the survey’s authors conclude. “In all grades, 2023 levels remained below those in 2020.”

They add, “Lifetime, past 12-month, and past 30-day use all dropped precipitously from 2020 (before the pandemic) to 2021 (during the pandemic), and have since remained at the new, lower levels.”

Since the late 1990s, self-reported annual marijuana use by 12th graders — as reported by the Monitoring the Future survey — has fallen an estimated 25 percent. Among 10th graders, it has fallen by 50 percent. Among 8th graders, it has fallen by more than half.

The University’s conclusions are consistent with those of other recent surveys finding that the adoption of statewide adult-use legalization laws has generally not been associated with increasing rates of youth use. According to a May 2023 report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of high schoolers who ever tried marijuana fell 30 percent between 2011 and 2021 – during which time nearly half of all US states legalized cannabis. The percentage of students who self-identified as current marijuana consumers decreased by a similar percentage during the same time period.

Commenting on the data, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “These findings ought to reassure lawmakers and the public that cannabis access for adults can be legally regulated in a manner that is safe, effective, and that does not significantly impact young people’s consumption habits.”

Monitoring the Future’s 2023 report is available online. Additional information on cannabis use trends among young people is available from the NORML Fact Sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.’

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