No Increase in Youth Cannabis Use in Colorado Post-Legalization

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According to a federal survey data, the rate of youth cannabis use in Colorado has sunk to its lowest levels in about ten years following the legalization of the substance in the state.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s state-level numbers show that more than 9 percent of youth in Colorado aged 12 to 17 were consuming cannabis every month in 2015 and 2016. It is a statistically significant drop from prior years. It is also the lowest rate of monthly cannabis use in Colorado since 2007 to 2008.

Cannabis consumption rates are not the only statistic dropping in Colorado as teen alcohol, heroin, and tobacco use have also gone down considerably in the state.

Colorado was the first in the U.S. to open the cannabis market for adult-use in 2014. It was viewed as a bellwether by both the supporters of the legalization as well as those who are against it.

For the state-level data, the poll used the two-year period to amplify the statistical accuracy and sample sizes. In 2016, the survey reported that the state was the number one in adolescent cannabis use in the U.S. This data was then used by the people against the legalization to argue that cannabis legalization failed in protecting the youth from drug use.

No Increase in Youth Cannabis Use in Colorado

With the abrupt drop in last year’s data, Colorado has fallen to number 7 in the national ranking of youth cannabis use. It came behind Alaska, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The federal data also indicated that cannabis use fell in the whole country in 2016. No state had a significant increase in their share of adolescents using cannabis. As a matter of fact, the numbers considerably dropped in Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, and California.

Another surveyed commissioned by the officials in Colorado found out that the youth in the state are in the middle of the pack of cannabis consumption.

Brian Vicente, one of the drafters of Colorado’s cannabis ballot measure and the owner of Vicente Serberg LLC said that the youth in Colorado has dropped cannabis use because it is now the local authorities and the state that are overseeing the sale and production of the drug. Vicente added that there are serious consequences for selling to anyone below 18 thus pushing authorized cannabis businesses in being vigilant in checking identification.

However, the numbers of cannabis users are going up among people aged 18 to 25 and aged 26 and up. On the other hand, alcohol consumption has been falling across the board.

For instance, in Colorado, young adults from 18 to 25 who drink alcoholic drinks every month fell by 4 percent between 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016. It is also the group who consumes the most amount of cannabis, suggesting that this demographic is now choosing cannabis instead of getting drunk, now that it is an available option for them.

A recent federal data also disclosed that the self-reported use of cannabis by people below 18 in Colorado is largely unchanged in the years following the passing of the adult use legalization. It also remained slightly just below the average in the U.S.

Cannabis: Use Responsibly

According to the 2018 report of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the rate of high school students who admitted that they have used cannabis in the past month fell by about 11 percent between the years 2011 and 2017. Centers for Disease Control’s data is consistent with the findings of other several other data sets that report that neither the passage of adult use regulation or enactment of the legalization of medical cannabis is connected with the noteworthy upticks in cannabis use or access among the youth of the state.

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