Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use Drops 37% After a Decade of Marijuana Legalization

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado aligns with a decline in teen marijuana use, data from the Department of Public Health shows.

The latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey reveals that the proportion of high school students who reported using marijuana in the past month dropped by 37% from 2013 to 2023. Additionally, the number of teens who found marijuana “easy” to obtain decreased by 27% during the same period.

In 2012, Colorado tied Washington as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. The first licensed marijuana retail outlet opened in 2014.

Nationally, high school marijuana use has decreased by an estimated 30% over the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Compliance checks in states like California, Colorado, and Nevada indicate that licensed marijuana retailers do not sell to underage individuals.

In April, a study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics found that legalizing marijuana including allowing licensed marijuana stores is associated with reduced use rates among teenagers. The study included data from nearly a million teens across 47 states who reported “prior month use of cannabis, alcohol, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes.”

“[Legalizing recreational marijuana] was not associated with adolescents’ likelihood or frequency of cannabis use, although negative total effect estimates indicated significantly lowered use following RCL”, states the study.

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