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Data Says No Increase In Teen Pot Use Since Colorado Legalization

Some worried teen pot use would increase in Colorado when recreational marijuana stores opened, but data shows no such increase.

Newly released federal data shows marijuana use is down slightly among Colorado teenagers.

After voters legalized the drug in 2012 state officials became worried about easier access for kids and teens. That concern was renewed two years later when retail shops began popping up.

But the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows just over 9 percent of Colorado teens say they’ve used pot in the last month. That’s down about 2 percent from the previous year’s report.

“People are concerned that legalization may sort of provide this new norm and then we see an increase in youth use,” says Dr. Larry Wolk, the chief medical officer for the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment. “From a good news standpoint, we just haven’t seen that kind of increase.”

According to Wolk, the federal numbers reflect state findings as well.

Both our in-state surveys, as well as this national survey, are now consistent in that they both show no increase in youth use since legalization,” he says.  

While the federal data is positive, Wolk warns it’s not as comprehensive as the state-collected information. He looks to the Healthy Kids Colorado survey for a more complete picture, and the latest version of that report is due out in early spring.   

Wolk says marijuana use among Colorado adults has remained steady since the drug’s legalization.

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