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 a lot of misconceptions about marijuana. Some teens think it's harmless, because they believe it's a "natural herb." But studies show marijuana can have harmful effects on their developing brains. 

It's important to understand how common marijuana use is among today's teens.

Understanding the risks, dangers, facts, and statistics can help you know how to address the issue with your teen.

Marijuana Statistics

  • 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% reported that they first used marijuana between ages 12 and 17, and about 2% reported that they first used marijuana before age 12. 
  • In 2010, 21% of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19% smoked cigarettes. 
  • 19% of teen drivers reports they have driven under the influence of marijuana.
  • Marijuana accounts for 17% of admissions to treatment facilities in the United States, second only to opiates among illicit substances. 
  • Approximately 35.9% of female high school students surveyed nationwide in 2005 used marijuana during their lifetime. 

    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% 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 offenses. Although the laws vary greatly by state and country, some regions impose very strict consequences for teenage offenders. 

    Talk to Your Teen

    Don't hesitate to start a conversation with your teen about marijuana. Don't wait for your teen to bring it up--bring up the issue first. 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. 

    Make it an ongoing conversation.

    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. 


    Patton, G.C. et al. Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study. British Medical Journal, 325:1195-1198, 2002.

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

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Monitoring the Future (MTF)

    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

    Edited by Amy Morin.


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