Share of Colorado kids using marijuana stays flat in 2017 while adult use increases, reports say

Rate has stayed flat since 2013

DENVER – The share of Colorado kids using marijuana stayed steady again in 2017 and still hasn’t increased since recreational cannabis was legalized, while adult use rates increased by about 2 percent in 2017 from the year prior.

The new data comes in two surveys expected to be released in coming days by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the 2017 Health Kids Colorado Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, which is done every two years, shows that 19 percent of children said they used marijuana in 2017—nearly the same rate who said they did in 2013 (20 percent) before recreational legalization.

But though only one in five say they use it, four in five think their peers use it, the survey found.

“This discrepancy between perception and reality opens the door for our youth public education campaigns showing it is the norm for youth not to use, thus helping remove perceived pressure youth may feel from peers,” said a news release about the new data from CDPHE.

The department says the survey also shows that adults and teachers have an influence on Colorado’s children when it comes to their decision of whether or not to use marijuana. It says that kids who think their parents think they shouldn’t use marijuana were 72 percent less likely to do so than their peers.

The survey also found that kids who felt they had caring teachers and parents were less likely to use marijuana as well, by factors of 28 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

“Preventing young people from using marijuana is a statewide priority,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “While youth use hasn’t gone up, we are working hard to educate Colorado parents and their children about the health and legal risks of underage marijuana use.”

At the same time, adult use rose from 13.6 percent in 2016 to 15.5 percent last year, according to the BRFSS. That survey shows that rise was driven by a 7 percent increase in use among young adults aged 18-34, from 19.4 percent in 2016 to 26.4 percent in 2017.

The survey says that daily or near-daily use among adults increased from 6.4 percent in 2016 to 7.6 percent last year, and that adults are increasingly eating or drinking marijuana-infused products: the share of people doing so increased to 40.4 percent last year from 35.2 percent in 2016.

But despite the increase in the number of adults who are using, the CDPHE says the number who said they drove while high kept steady at 3 percent in both 2016 and 2017.

Some of the data reflects data from the federal National Survey on Drug Use and Health yearly report, which was released late last year and also found the youth use rates were declining.

The state also has a new campaign, Responsibility Grows Here, to educate children and parents about responsible marijuana use.

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