Marijuana and Teens

Data released today from the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future survey shows unprecedented year-over-year declines in young people’s use of marijuana and other controlled substances.

Authors reported, “The percentage of students who reported using marijuana (in all forms, including smoking and vaping) within the past year decreased significantly for eighth, 10th, and 12th grade students.”

Specifically, the data identified a 38 percent year-over-year reduction in self-reported marijuana use among eight graders, a 38 percent decline among 10th graders, and a 13 percent decrease among 12th graders.

“We have never seen such dramatic decreases in drug use among teens in just a one-year period,” said Nora Volkow, Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the study. “These data are unprecedented and highlight one unexpected potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused seismic shifts in the day-to-day lives of adolescents.”

In September, Dr. Volkow publicly acknowledged that the enactment of statewide laws regulating the adult-use cannabis market has not led to an increase in the percentage of young people experimenting with the substance.

The MTF findings come just months after the US National Institutes of Health released similar conclusions. That study also reported dramatic year-over-year decreases in cannabis use by those ages 12 to 17.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “These latest findings add to the growing body of scientific literature showing that marijuana regulation policies can be implemented in a manner that provides access for adults while simultaneously limiting youth access and misuse.”

The Monitoring the Future findings are consistent with numerous other studies – such as those hereherehere, and here – concluding that statewide marijuana legalization policies are not associated with any significant rise in either the use of marijuana by young people or in their ability to access it.

Additional information regarding marijuana use patterns among young people is available from the NORML fact sheet “Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.”

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