Marijuana is now legal for medicinal or recreational use in more than half the nation, yet America’s youth don’t seem to be able to access the cannabis being sold in these new legal and locally regulated marketplaces — or the majority of them just don’t care about weed now that it’s legal. Whatever the reason, the National Institutes of Health is reporting a steep decline in youth marijuana consumption.
The data released this fall comes from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and it was put out by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It reveals a 25% drop in usage by teens (well, technically 12-17 year olds) who reported consuming cannabis in the past year.
“These findings,” Paul Armentano, the deputy director of marijuana advocacy group NORML, wrote in a statement, “ought to reassure lawmakers that cannabis access can be legally regulated in a manner that is safe, effective, and that does not inadvertently impact young people’s habits.”
In 2019, 13.2% of teens reported having used marijuana within the past year, the new federal drug-use data shows, while in 2020 it fell to 10.1%.
There was also a steep decline — 20% — in teens who reported consuming marijuana in the past month. It shrunk from 7.4% across the nation to 5.9%. Cannabis consumption rates for those 18 to 25 didn’t budge in a statistically significant way for usage in either the past month or year.
Marijuana usage did increase for those 26 and older, likely because marijuana’s now legal for medicinal and/or recreational purposes in 18 different states, the nation’s capital, numerous tribal lands and some U.S. territories.