Pubdate: Tue, 21 Jun 2016
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Denver Post Corp
Author: John Ingold


One out of every five Colorado teens admits having used marijuana in 
the past month, but that rate has not increased since pot was 
legalized in the state and is in line with the national average, 
according to a new report from the state Health Department.

Among the other findings of the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 
released Monday:

The large majority of Colorado middle and high school students - 62 
percent - say they have never used marijuana.

Alcohol is the drug of choice among Colorado teens, with 30 percent 
of kids surveyed saying they drank within the previous month.

Cigarette use among teens is at an alltime low, with fewer than one 
in 10 kids saying they smoke them regularly. But more than a quarter 
of Colorado teens say they have used an e-cigarette or other vapor 
product in the past month.

Nearly 14 percent of Colorado teens said they have used 
pharmaceuticals without a prescription, below the national average. 
But the percent of Colorado teens who have ever used cocaine or 
ecstasy - both at around 6 percent - is slightly higher than the 
national average.

The marijuana finding is the second time the Healthy Kids Colorado 
Survey - which is conducted every other year - has found flat pot use 
among Colorado teens despite the post-legalization boom in marijuana 

The 2013 version of the survey found that 19.7 percent of teens had 
used marijuana in the past month. The 2015 version puts that number 
at 21.2 percent, but Larry Wolk, the executive director of the 
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said that 
increase is not statistically significant - meaning it could be a 
wiggle in the data and not a meaningful increase. In 2009, at the 
beginning of the state's boom in medical marijuana stores, the rate 
was 24.8 percent.

Similarly, the rate of teens in Colorado who say they have ever used 
marijuana, even just once, also remained stable. In 2009, that rate 
was 42.6 percent, while it shrank to 36.9 percent in 2013, according 
to the survey. In 2015, it was 38 percent.

"I'm heartened, as I think many folks are, by the results," Wolk said.

He added that the survey results, "reassure us at least for the time 
being that there is no increase in youth use."

Marijuana use among Colorado kids has received national attention 
since voters in 2012 made the state one of the first two to legalize 
pot possession by adults. Colorado's first recreational marijuana 
stores - which can sell to anyone over 21 years old - opened in 2014. 
The state has had large numbers of medical marijuana dispensaries, 
which sell to anyone with a state-approved medical marijuana card, since 2009.

In the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 11 percent of students said 
they obtained marijuana from someone with a medical marijuana card or 
by using their own medical marijuana card. The most common methods of 
obtaining pot were the less-descriptive "someone gave it to me" and 
"got it some other way." Combined, those two survey choices accounted 
for 79 percent of the responses.

Marijuana use among teens nationwide also remained flat, according to 
a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released 
this month. That survey, from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance 
System, found that 21.7 percent of high school students nationwide 
said they had used marijuana in the past month. In 2013, that figure 
was 23.4 percent.

A second national study, the long-running Monitoring the Future 
survey, found last year that marijuana use among teens, "has more or 
less leveled out since about 2010." In 2015, that survey found 
nationwide that 12 percent of eighth-graders, 25 percent of 
10th-graders and 35 percent of 12th-graders had used marijuana in the 
past month.

Colorado does not participate in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance 
System. That makes the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey perhaps the best 
source of data on teen substance use in the state. In 2015, the 
survey was sent to nearly 17,000 teens at 157 high schools and middle schools.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom