Marijuana Use By Colorado Teens Is Decreasing, Federal Report Says

Photo Credit: Brennan Linsley

A new report on teen behavior from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some good news for those concerned about marijuana use among teens. But its statistics on teen use of birth control and vaping pointed to some disturbing trends for youth health.

The CDC conducted the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in 2017.

The report shows about 19.6 percent of Colorado high schoolers said they had used marijuana one or more times in the past 30 days, down from 22 percent in 2011, the year before recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado. The state’s 2017 rate is just slightly below the national average of 19.8 percent.

Use of drugs like Ecstasy, cocaine, inhalants (glue) and alcohol also dropped substantially between 2011 and 2017, according to the report.

More concerning is the report’s first-ever look at vaping and e-cigarettes. The survey reported 26.2 percent of Colorado high school students had vaped or used an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days, and that’s nearly double the national average of 13.2 percent.

And about 12 percent of Colorado teens surveyed who said they were sexually active said they did not use any form of birth control, up from seven percent in 2011.

The survey also had some concerning statistics about youth violence. Just under 5 percent of Colorado high schoolers reported they carried a weapon to school – primarily a gun or knife – in the 30 days prior to the survey. That’s a full point above the national average of 3.8 percent.

And 5.8 percent of Colorado teens reported they had been threatened or injured by a weapon on school property in the previous 12 months. That’s just slightly below the national average.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project said: “After five years of marijuana being legal for adults in Colorado, government surveys continue to find no increase in usage rates among high school students. This is very welcome news for Colorado, and it should be particularly welcome news for those who opposed the state’s legalization for fear it would lead to an explosion in teen use.”