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Percentage of Cannabis Consumption Among Teens Decreased in 2021

Percentage of Cannabis Consumption Among Teens Decreased in 2021

According to a study by Monitoring the Future, the percentage of teenagers that reported consuming marijuana dropped significantly in 2021. The study was conducted by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The study represents the largest one-year decrease since the survey began in 1975.

“We have never seen such dramatic decreases in drug use among teens in just a one-year period. These data are unprecedented and highlight one unexpected potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which seismic shifts in the day-to-day lives of adolescents,” Nora, Volkow, M.D., NIDA director, said in a statement.

Since 1975, Monitoring the Future has conducted an annual survey with students in eighth, 10th, and 12th grades who self-reported their substance use experiences over different periods such as a past month, past year, and lifetime. 

The research team also surveyed teens on other substances such as alcohol and vaped nicotine and their mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teen use of alcohol, vaped nicotine, and other illicit drugs experienced a decrease in consumption.

“In addition to looking at these significant one-year declines in substance use among young people, the real benefit of the Monitoring the Future survey is our unique ability to track changes over time, and over the course of history,” Richard A. Miech, Ph.D., lead author and team lead of the Monitoring the Future study, said in a press release from the study.

The 2021 study presented the following percentage decreases in cannabis use by teens by grade.

  • Eighth graders: 7.1% reported marijuana use in 2021, compared to 11.4% in 2020
  • 10th graders: 17.3% reported marijuana use in 2021, compared to 28% in 2020
  • 12th graders: 30.5% reporting using marijuana in 2021, compared to 35.2% in 2020

“Moving forward, it will be crucial to identify the pivotal elements of this past year that contributed to decreased drug use – whether related to drug availability, family involvement, differences in peer pressure, or other factors – and harness them to inform future prevention efforts,” Volkow said. 

The Monitoring the Future survey team is not the only group following and studying teen use of marijuana. According to a study released last summer by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education, cannabis consumption among youth has remained the same as it was ten years ago.

Many states have legalized cannabis consumption either for medicinal or recreational purposes leading more parents to have an honest discussion about cannabis with their children. States where cannabis is legal usually require child-resistant packaging such as child-resistant mylar bags to protect young children from accidental exposure to cannabis.

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