DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said today that a new report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse showing increasing youth consumption of marijuana should be a cause of concern for Coloradans.
According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, teen marijuana use has increased, most notably among 10th and 12th graders. Among 12th graders, 36.4 percent of those surveyed reported that they had used marijuana at least once within the previous year, up from 34.8 percent in 2010. The 10th graders surveyed also reported a similar increase in use with 28.8 percent of those surveyed reported that they had used marijuana at least once within the previous year, up from 27.5 percent in 2010.
These results tracked parallel to both 10th and 12th graders reporting a lower perception of risk associated with marijuana use. Both demographics reported less perception of risk associated with using marijuana once or twice, smoking marijuana occasionally and smoking marijuana regularly. There is a clear relationship between teenage marijuana use and teens’ perception of risk. As the perception of risk of the drug decreases, marijuana use increases.
“These trends are especially concerning given the research on the effects of marijuana use on the teenage brain,” Suthers said. “The increasing accessibility and acceptability of marijuana for teenagers in Colorado should be of concern to all of us.”
According to the report, daily marijuana use among:
- 8th graders rose to 1.3 percent in 2011, up from 1.2 percent the previous year;
- 10th graders rose to 3.6 percent in 2011, up from 3.3 percent the previous year; and,
- 12th graders rose to 6.6 percent in 2011, up from 6.1 percent the previous year.
This year’s report shows a continuation of last year’s trends of increasing youth use of marijuana.
Even though the marijuana-use trends are disconcerting, Suthers said the decreasing use of tobacco and alcohol by teens is encouraging. According to the survey, cigarette and alcohol use by teenagers is at an all-time low since the Monitoring the Future Survey began polling youth in 1975.
“Tobacco and alcohol levy a steep cost on teens, both in terms of their health and their safety,” Suthers said. “Although some of the findings of the 2011 survey are disconcerting — and rightfully so — the decreased in youth cigarette and alcohol use are extremely encouraging and a testament to public outreach and education campaigns at the state and federal levels.”
Both teenage alcohol and marijuana use had been declining until 2008. Although alcohol use has continued to decline, marijuana use has spiked over the past several years.