Marijuana use among Denver teenagers stayed flat from 2018 to 2019 and was lower than the national average in some age ranges, according to a new city study.
The Denver survey, funded by local marijuana sales tax revenue, found that 81 percent of Denver youth aged thirteen to seventeen said they were not regular users of marijuana last year, compared to 80 percent in 2018, while 24 percent admitted to trying marijuana once or twice in 2019, a 3 percent rise from the year before.
The High Costs survey was part of a campaign started in 2018 by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, which aimed to reduce teenage pot use through school signs and public advertisements. Over the past two years, the campaign surveyed just over 1,000 Denver teenagers to see how allowing legal pot sales within the city might have affected youth marijuana use.
Respondents aged thirteen to eighteen who admitted to marijuana use at least once a month or more dropped 1 percentage point in 2019, from 18 to 17 percent, according to the survey. Male teenagers currently consuming marijuana dropped to 18 percent in 2019, down from 27 percent in 2018. However, current marijuana use among females increased from 10 percent to 13 percent.
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According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 18 percent of tenth-grade students nationwide admitted to marijuana use in 2019.
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The percentage of Denver teenagers who said they'd used marijuana within the past month (17 percent) in 2019 was almost 3 percent lower than the 19.7 percent of high school students statewide admitting to the same in 2013, the year before recreational marijuana stores opened in Colorado.
“Hopefully, our continued success educating youth to wait until they are of legal age to consume can also serve as an example for other communities across the U.S. The verdict is in that scare tactics are not successful with youth," Excise and Licenses executive director Ashley Kilroy says in a statement announcing the survey results. "Providing them facts about marijuana is the most effective youth education and prevention approach.”
And it seems that at least younger teens might be getting the message. In 2019, 38 percent of Denver eighteen-year-olds said they were current marijuana users, which was significantly higher than the 22.3 percent of twelfth-graders nationwide reporting pot use within the last month. During the same span, however, 21 percent of Denver's seventeen-year-olds and just 18 percent of its sixteen-year-olds admitted to currently using.