Marijuana Usage Prevalence In Teens Unchanged Despite Increased Legalization in States
LewisFirst, MD, MA, Editor in Chief, Pediatrics
With increased legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, there is increased
concern amongst pediatricians that the prevalence of marijuana usage will increase.
Yet if one looks at the prevalence of marijuana usage in teens, it has not changed
since 2005 despite more teens believing that usage is not harmful to them. Is this
good news for those who advocated for legalization? Not necessarily, according to
new data being released this week in our journal in a study by Miech et al. (10.1542/peds.2017-0982). The authors present data from a national survey of over 1.1 million US students
in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades and attribute the stability in marijuana usage to the influence of the decline
in cigarette and alcohol use concurrent with a decline in marijuana use in these same
teens. However, the prevalence of the drug’s use in those who did not use cigarettes
and alcohol increased, perhaps supporting the belief in teens that marijuana usage
is not as harmful as other substances like tobacco and alcohol are perceived to be.
To make sense of these findings we asked adolescent substance abuse specialists Drs.
Nicholas Chadi and Sharon Levy to share their opinion in an accompanying commentary
(10.1542/peds.2017-3164). Their insight is quite convincing that we should not celebrate the stability of
usage in this article since it is masking concerning trends related to ongoing marijuana
use, including the characteristics of those teens who are now using marijuana. You
definitely will not overdose on what you can learn from this study and commentary,
so please link to them and learn more.