Marijuana Use by Teens Down in Colorado

Categories: Weed

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Image: Andrew Pielage
Marijuana use by teens continues to decline in Colorado since the proliferation of retail medical-pot stores, but the state's health department would rather focus on perceptions over reality.

A news release put out today by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is headlined, "New survey documents youth marijuana use, need for prevention." And the article begins with the concern-inducing statement, "Fewer high school students in Colorado think using marijuana is risky."

Reading on, though, it's obvious the real news from the 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is that marijuana use among teens in one of the country's most marijuana-friendly states is falling.

See also:
-Teen Use of Marijuana Decreased Since Passage of Arizona Medical-Pot Law, Study Shows

The CDPHE news release states:

"One in five Colorado high school students used marijuana in the past 30 days, and more than a third have used it at some point in their lives, the survey shows. Thirty-day marijuana use fell from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013, and lifetime use declined from 39 percent to 37 percent during the same two years. None of the declines shown in the preliminary data represent a statistically significant drop in rates."

Mark Salley, spokesman for the agency, tells Phoenix New Times that the department chose to go with the perception-of-risk angle, rather than the pot-use-is-falling angle, in order to tie the survey results to a youth marijuana-prevention campaign the agency intends to launch next month. He admits the disclaimer about how the declines aren't statistically significant applies equally to the stat about perception of risk.

Yet, as Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Colorado points out, the same survey also made headlines in 2012 for showing a decline in teen marijuana use in Colorado.

Over the four years, then, during a time when more than 100,000 Coloradans were legally buying medical-marijuana at stores that outnumbered Starbucks outlets, teen marijuana use fell from 24.8 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2013.

Nationwide surveys show that pot use among teens is up a few points. Meaning that regulation and legalization -- at the least -- aren't leading to an increase of kids using marijuana in Colorado.

"How many times do marijuana prohibition supporters need to be proven wrong before they stop declaring our marijuana laws are increasing teen use?" Tvert said in a written statement. "They were wrong when they said regulating medical marijuana would do it, and they were wrong when they doubled down and said making marijuana legal for adults would do it."

UPDATE 4:14 p.m.: After we published this article, we talked some more with the Colorado health agency about the statistics and margin of error.

Another spokesman told us that the agency does not see any trends from 2009 to 2013 from those survey statistics -- no decrease, but no increase, either. The reason is that the margin of error for the 2009 to 2011 numbers was high enough to shed doubt on whether by 2013 an actual decrease occurred.

Look at that caveat from the other end, though, and critics' predictions of an increase in teen use don't seem to have come true.

We thought the issue required some more insight, and were able to get the CDPHE's executive director, Dr. Larry Wolk, on the phone for a few minutes. As the above-mentioned news release states, Wolk admits he's worried that the "normalization of marijuana use in Colorado could lead more young people to try it."

About one in five Colorado teens use marijuana now, the survey shows.

"It's logical to think that we now have legalized marijuana, there should be concern for increased use among teens," Wolk says.

The historical marijuana retail shops for adults 21 and older in Colorado didn't open until January 1 of this year, so the youth survey results don't apply to the legalization of so-called recreational use of marijuana. However, Wolk agrees that since 2009, when medical-pot retail stores began exploding across the state to serve tens of thousands of legal users, his agency's statistics confirm that "we didn't see an appreciable increase among teens in that period of time."

Judging by Colorado's experience, there's little reason to believe that Arizona's medical-marijuana program will mean more teens, in general, using pot.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.


My Voice Nation Help
36 comments
dkessler4
dkessler4

"It's logical to think that we now have legalized marijuana, there should be concern for increased use among teens," Wolk says.

Wolk is an idiot that is clearly NOT being logical. He prefers a system where drug dealers do not ask for ID from kids for a marijuana sale over a sales system by legitimate retailers who do. He prefers a retail system that sends money outside the country rather than to have legitimate retailers that pay taxes, that keep marijuana from kids, and who are far more likely to recirculate that money in their local communities. This is just another pig feeding from the drug war trough. His concern is not for the welfare of our children.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

Another responsible weed smoker, but then again, the THC didnt harm the baby, just wanna make that clear, so youre not offended by the pureness of the godlike marijuana that enlightens and expands everyones mind to stay home and watch cartoons.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

Whats this? Right off the top, a case where a weed smoking dickhole, like yourself, left his kid in the car to die because he was smoking weed, just a couple months ago...but he must be the responsible stay at home sponge bob watching type, right? But you need a scientist or data to tell you the kid died from weed, right?

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

The burden of proof is on the accuser.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

So commence with all your scientific data that weed prevents drugged drivers from killing or causing harm, that you spent so many years collecting.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

Ooh, i get it, and your scientific evidence that weed creates a safer substance abuser is supported by what scientist? Ha! Google fuckin deaths that are contributed to by "THC" the numbers exist and are higher than you think. Just because someone wasnt smoking and driving doesnt mean they couldnt contribute to the death of another human being because of their ill decision to drive while under the influence of a mind altering drug. Wanna talk about exceptions, shit.

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

Still waiting for all this evidence to support your claims. I mean, am I wrong to assume you were referring to all the empirical data you have spent years collecting?

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

I'm wrong that you're trying to present exceptions as the entire rule? Not really. You've actually presented zero evidence to support your point whatsoever. I'll wait right here while you point to the scientific studies supporting your claim, and the reports by federal agencies citing how many fatal accidents have been caused as the result of THC toxicity. Go ahead. Whenever you're ready.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

Funny, thats all you have to fall back on, cause you know i am right. Son.

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

The exception is not the rule, no matter how hard you try to make it so. People drown all the time too. It doesn't mean all water is dangerous. Dumbass. "Loosing" LOL

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

Yeah...cause potheads dont shit to harm other people except drive off with their newborn on the roof of their vehicle, loosing control of a vehicle and costing the lives of their younger siblings, or how about dumb asses who leave their kids in their vehicles because they were too busy smoking. Quit believing that stupid ass teenage urban myth of "no one ever died from smoking weed, man".

Rob Nelson
Rob Nelson

usage is down because honestly what teenage kid can afford these inflated government prices? Ripped off again america. Keep it illegal so we can afford it!

AkaTed
AkaTed

Reality is the vendor is bucked..Telling people that there were no MMJ infused into the candy was far from the truth but to blame it on the Legalization of MMJ is a joke..Why would you be in the 21 and over Pot Pavilion and think that there are not going to products related to MMJ or infused products's..Also regarding the Heroin that you say is sky rocketing heroin use has been sky rocketing for the past 14 years when DR's started to hand out Pain Medication like a bag of Skittles to patient's instead of saying NO and referring patient's different alternatives.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton

Colorado has it right - we need to take notes and put this to a vote here in the valley. A great source of revenue for the state and monument of freedom for us.

AkaTed
AkaTed

Thanks Mr Ray Stern for running this story :) all the FEARMONGER's waving there flags about MJ and the deadly consequences about legalizing MJ your data is far from the truth.

Shawn Lopez
Shawn Lopez

The thought of giving them something that you told them they can't have astounds me. Adam and eve I guess

SpottedDick
SpottedDick

>>>> Heroin Use in Colorado Skyrockets! since Marijuana explosion <<<<


In the last five years the number of heroin users has doubled in Colorado and across the country.


Many addicts turn to the illegal drug to ease the pains of withdrawal from prescribed pain killers, because it is a cheaper alternative that gives the user a similar high.


According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about five percent of Colorado’s population abuses prescription painkillers, putting Colorado among the top states for abuse.

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

it ISN'T risky. The only thing at risk is that we may potentially see a decrease in drunk driving if everyone stays at home watching Spongebob.

AkaTed
AkaTed

Already taking my ass to Oregon Ounces will be capped at 140 Game Over

Johnny Klinko
Johnny Klinko

But usage is down among teens? Your headlines are conflicting... if you bring something out of the shadow, the opinions and attitudes will change once they realize that its not as big a deal as the media makes it out to be.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Those prices are pretty steep. I'll just continue to grow my own.

fankromank555
fankromank555

Dude a little pot never hurt anyone man.


www.AnonGalaxy.tk

annarkey14
annarkey14

Why let a little thing like the truth spoil one's agenda?

dkessler4
dkessler4

If you were truly concerned about the welfare of those in Arizona you might look at the numbers for those who die from prescription drug overdoses in our state.  In Arizona we now lose more people to prescription drug overdoses than we do to traffic accidents.  No matter how you attempt to spin the data, marijuana does not kill Arizonans anywhere to the extent that these other drugs do.  Nor do you have any data available that supports your position.  Nice opinion Marco, but your opinion is just that, it has no basis in fact.  

dkessler4
dkessler4

Scientists do not support data.  The data is factual information that speaks for itself.  Only an idiot or a child wants someone's opinion rather than to examine the evidence.  People do lots of stupid things. Sometimes they do them while drinking or smoking pot.  The real problem is not the pot or the alcohol but those who act in a stupid and irresponsible manner. 

SpottedDick
SpottedDick

You'd be an idiot to think Colorado's system of over-regulation is anything Arizona should emulate.



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