Since Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012, the state Department of Public Health and Environment has been studying pot use in youth and adults. According to the recently released 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, one in five youth use marijuana. But the state’s chief toxicologist, Matt Van Dyke, says teens think their peers are using pot a lot more than they actually are.
“This discrepancy between perception and reality is really important in our prevention campaigns, in trying to (ensure) youth know that not most of their friends are using marijuana,” he says. “It’s only a select few.”
Van Dyke says this trend has been consistent for a few years now.
“Kids think that about 80 percent of their peers use marijuana, even though only about 20% actually do,” he says.
Young people who have trusted adults in their lives are less likely to use marijuana, according to the survey. Teens who know their parents think underage use is wrong are 72 percent less likely to use marijuana. Youth with caring teachers are 28 percent less likely to use and those who feel they have an adult to go to for help with a problem were 30 percent less likely to use.
While marijuana use among young people has been stagnant, adult use is on the rise, particularly in the 18-15 age group; it has increased from 25.2 to 29.2 percent in 2017 according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Van Dyke says both kids and adults are choosing to ingest marijuana differently. Edible products and dabbing use has risen, although the percentage of people who smoke marijuana has remained unchanged.