Teenagers in America are reporting levels of cannabis use close to the lowest on record according to data gathered from the 2022 Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

There are 24 states in America that now have fully accessible adult-use cannabis markets, as well as others that have medical markets. Many people who have concerns about the regulation of cannabis cite teenage use as a reason to keep it illegal, however, data from the SAMHSA drug survey echoes the results of other surveys and studies that show teen and adolescent use to be decreasing at the same time as cannabis markets are being opened up. 

3.46 million teenagers indicated in the 2022 survey that they had used cannabis at least once in their lifetime, whereas 3.55 million answered the same in the 2021 survey. However,  past year use has risen slightly from 2.845 million to 2.947 million. 

The 3.46 million figure means roughly 11% of all US teenagers up to the age of 17 have taken cannabis at least once in their lifetime. Comparatively, the percentage of people aged 12 and over who have taken cannabis at least once in their lifetime was reported to be 46.9%, up 0.8% from the year before. 

This theme is reflected in figures released this year from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report that showed from 2011 to 2021 the number of US teens of high school age that used cannabis fell by 30% despite the widespread relaxation of cannabis laws. The decrease in cannabis use is following a trend that shows a decrease in the use of nearly all substances including cocaine, psychedelics, prescription drugs, and opioids. 

The CDCP report states, “From 2019 to 2021, [the] prevalence of current substance use decreased for alcohol (from 29.2% to 22.7%), marijuana (from 21.7% to 15.8%), and binge drinking (from 13.7% to 10.5%). No change was observed in [the] prevalence of current prescription opioid misuse. Lifetime alcohol use, marijuana use, cocaine use, and prescription opioid misuse also decreased from 2019 to 2021”.

Although the use of cannabis is decreasing it remains the most popular drug amongst those youngsters with 7.4 million US teens saying they have used it, which is nearly 1 in 5. Figures released in 2022 from the UK also show that school pupils use cannabis more than any other drug with 6% of the overall number of surveyed secondary school children stating they had tried cannabis, this rose to 19% amongst 15-year-olds.

Teen cannabis use in US remains near record lows despite further legalisation

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