Statistics on Teenage Marijuana Use

Here are the facts all parents need to know about marijuana use by teens.
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Marijuana use among teens is thought to be more wide spread than alcohol use. Yet, many parents still don't believe their teen would ever smoke pot. 

There are also many misconceptions about marijuana—especially now that medical marijuana is being used by many people with health conditions and many states are legalizing pot use. 

Many parents also think pot must be harmless because they believe it's a "natural herb." But studies show marijuana can have harmful effects on a teen's developing brain.

 

It's important to understand how common marijuana use is among today's teens. Understanding the risks, dangers, facts, and statistics can help you address the issue with your teen.

Marijuana Statistics

While a lengthy lecture isn't likely to be helpful, sharing a few statistics about marijuana could educate your teen about the risks and dangers. Here are a few statistics that might make your teen think twice about smoking pot:

  • People who use marijuana prior to the age of 12 are twice as likely to experience a serious mental illness compared to those who first use marijuana at age 18 or older. 
  • Among persons aged 18 or older who reported lifetime marijuana use, almost 53 percent report first using marijuana between ages 12 and 17. About 2 percent report that they first used marijuana before age 12. 
  • In 2010, 21 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19 percent smoked cigarettes. 
  • Nineteen percent of teen drivers reports they have driven under the influence of marijuana.
  • Marijuana accounts for 17 percent of admissions to treatment facilities in the United States, second only to opiates among illicit substances. 

Marijuana Facts

  • Marijuana is addictive. About 1 in 6 people who start using as a teen, and 25-50 percent of those who use it every day, become addicted to marijuana. 
  • Marijuana and teen driving do not mix. It is the most common illegal drug found in drivers who die in accidents (around 14 percent of drivers), sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs.  
  • Marijuana is most common drug among teens. More teenage girls use marijuana than cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and all other illicit drugs combined. 
  • Marijuana use may precede depression. Research shows girls (ages 14-15) who used marijuana daily were 5 times more likely to face depression at age 21. Daily use in young women was associated with an over five-fold increase in the odds of reporting a state of depression and anxiety. 
  • Marijuana offenses carry serious legal consequences. Although the laws vary greatly by state and country, some regions impose very strict consequences for teenage offenders. 

Talk to Your Teen

Don't wait for your teen to bring up the subject of marijuana. Start a conversation today. Find out what your teen knows already and be prepared to share the facts.

Take steps to build credibility so your teen will value what you have to say. Discuss the dangers of using marijuana and make sure your teen fully understands the risks. 

Hold ongoing conversations about the dangers of marijuana use.

Discuss changes in the law or bring up the subject when there are stories about marijuana in the news. 

Find out what your teen is hearing from other sources too. Friends, social media, and other websites often promote marijuana and they may give your teen false information about drugs. It's important for you to be able to provide factual information. 

Sources:

Jacobus J, Tapert S. Effects of Cannabis on the Adolescent Brain. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2014;20(13):2186-2193. 

Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends. DrugFacts: Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2009. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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