Federal survey: CO is number 1 for youth pot use

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 21:47:38-05

Colorado youth use pot more than anyone else in the entire country, according to recent findings of a new federal survey.

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) analyzed the findings that found Colorado is now ranked number one in the country for youth pot use.

"The fact that Colorado is now number one in the nation across the board, people need to step back and look at that," said Chelsey Clarke, Intelligence Analyst with Rocky Mountain HIDTA.

Clarke also said in the last two years (2013/2014), the new data shows youth pot use is up by more than 20 percent in Colorado when compared to the same two-year average prior to legalization (2011/2012).

"If you look at the data... you can't ignore, Colorado use has been trending up for the past several years," she said.

However, marijuana advocacy groups argue those numbers are misleading.

"The statistics are clear that the rate of teen marijuana use has not increased," said Mason Tvert with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Tvert said when looking at year-to-year averages, youth pot use has not increased.

"Multiple state and federal surveys have shown that marijuana use among teens has not increased, and in fact there are surveys with much larger sample sizes that show that it's actually trending downward," said Tvert.

But Clarke disagreed.

"If you're looking at year-to-year, maybe you can say that -- but we're looking at the trends that the data is showing," she said.

Clarke noted Rocky Mountain HIDTA summarized federal data from the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and found significant trends in Colorado.

"The fact that youth went from number four in the nation to number one in the nation and that we're 74 percent higher than the rest of the nation for our youth [in the] past month... is extremely alarming," said Clarke.

"Is it part of the fact that people are more willing to say they smoke marijuana in Colorado because it's legal versus in other states where it is illegal still?" asked Denver 7's Jennifer Kovaleski.

"I think it's always illegal for youth so if you're gonna [sic] base that on if they're gonna [sic] talk or not, that hasn't changed," responded Clarke.

Rocky Mountain HIDTA's also found that the latest 2013/2014 results show Colorado college-age adults rank number one in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from number three in 2011/2012.

Rocky Mountain HIDTA is a federal funded grant program that's a part of the national drug control and policy of the White House.

To view the full report, click here


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.