Marijuana use among Colorado teens declines again, government report shows

DENVER – Colorado adolescents are using marijuana at the lowest rate in a decade, and the rates at which the same group of children are using it continues to decline since recreational marijuana went on sale here in 2014, according to new data published by the federal government.

The new data comes from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health yearly report, which is performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

According to the report, the rate by which children aged 12-17 have used marijuana in the past month fell from 11.13 percent in 2014-15 to 9.08 percent in 2015-16.

According to the annual report, past-month use among the age group peaked in 2013-14 at just over 12 percent of the population. It has declined each year since.

And the last time that past-month marijuana use rate among Colorado teens was this low was in the 2007-08 year, according to the report.

Last year, the survey found that past-month use was highest in the nation among Colorado teens, which the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area said was “extremely alarming.”

But the new data shows Colorado now ranks seventh for past-month use among kids aged 12-17, behind Alaska, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

At the same time, however, adult use over the past year in Colorado went up slightly, from 23.57 percent of people aged 18+ in 2014-15, to 23.82 percent in 2015-16. That was the highest rate in the nation.

And the survey found that 47.5 percent of Coloradans aged 18-25 had used marijuana in the past year at least once – up nearly 2 percent over the year.

"Colorado is effectively regulating marijuana for adult use. Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana,” said Brian Vicente, one of the original drafters of Amendment 64. “These survey results should come as welcome news to anyone who worried teen marijuana use would increase following legalization. As a proponent of Amendment 64 and a parent of two young children, they certainly came as welcome news to me.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Justice Department say they are still reviewing the department’s stance as to federal marijuana enforcement within states where medical and/or recreational programs are legal.

He has repeatedly said he believes that marijuana is “not a healthy substance” and that it has no beneficial medical treatments to treat opioid addiction and other ailments despite some scientific studies saying otherwise.

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