|New federal data shows nearly half of Colo. young adults have used marijuana in past year
Increase in young adult use tempers optimism over decline in reported teen consumption
Henny Lasley, executive director of Smart Colorado, today provided the following comments on the 2015-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which was just released by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
“Smart Colorado is encouraged by a decrease in past year marijuana use for Colorado kids ages 12-17. But that optimism is offset by an increase among those ages 18-25, with nearly half reporting past year use, the third highest rate in the nation.
Research shows marijuana damages developing brains, which are still growing until age 25. Amendment 64 legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado only for those 21 or older.
The reported decrease for those ages 12-17 may reflect efforts supported by Smart Colorado and others to ensure youth prevention and education receive adequate attention and resources.
This year Smart Colorado supported a move by the Colorado Legislature to fund an additional 150 school behavioral health professionals to better support Colorado kids, families, and schools in addressing the growing challenges of substance use.
This is certainly not the time to let our guard down as the youth marijuana use rate in Colorado remains among the highest in the nation, and regular use by 18-25 year olds is stunningly high.
This is particularly of concern as today’s marijuana becomes increasingly potent, with THC rates far exceeding anything experienced in past decades.
It should also be noted that the new federal survey results are for the entire state of Colorado. With the majority of Colorado jurisdictions opting out of marijuana commercialization, youth exposure and access has been thoughtfully limited.
But the latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey showed significantly higher teen marijuana use in Denver and Pueblo, two centers of commercialization, compared to the state as a whole.
Smart Colorado calls on the General Assembly to continue to direct much-needed revenue towards education, prevention and promoting positive and healthy youth behaviors, while ensuring that state education efforts focus on the realities of today’s new high-THC products and intake methods. Full public disclosure of potential risks and harms at point of sale also remains critically important.”