Marijuana Use Among Teens Has Dropped To Lowest Level Since 1994


Marijuana Use Among Teens Has Dropped To Lowest Level Since 1994

Marijuana Use Among Teens Has Dropped To Lowest Level Since 1994
Marijuana Use Among Teens Has Dropped To Lowest Level Since 1994 – image via

Marijuana use has dropped to its lowest level among teens in the United States since 1994. According to the latest statistics released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), show that only 6.5% of kids with the ages in between 12 to 17 have used marijuana on a monthly basis. This is, in fact, the lowest level since 1994.

In 2016, around 24 million teens aged 12 or older reportedly smoked marijuana at least once a month. That number stood at 8.9% of the population in that particular age group. Overall consumption has risen in the United States. According to the NSDUH, the highest rise in consumption happened with people 26 and older, and to a lesser extent for people 18 to 25. Almost 21% of Americans between the age of 18 and 25 have use marijuana at least once a month, while people between 26 and 34 is at 14.5%.

Past Month Marijuana Use among People Aged 12 or Older, by Age Group: Percentages, 2002-2016. Credit: NSDUH.

At the same time, however, the level of alcohol consumption has dropped throughout all the group ages.

Underage individuals that have been reported to use alcohol in 2016 was lower than between 2002 and 2014. Nevertheless, 1 in 5 underage individuals still drank alcohol at least once a month in 2016. In 2002, 8.2% of all teens used marijuana on a monthly basis and there has been a downward trend in cannabis use for this age group regardless of whether it is legalized or not.


When it came to the legalization, California became the first ever state to do so in 1996. It was only for medical purposes back then. Since then, however, 29 states, as well as Washington DC, allow marijuana use for medical purposes, while 8, as well as DC, also allow it as a recreational substance for adults.

Current Alcohol Use among People Aged 12 to 20: Percentages, 2002-2016. Credit: NSDUH.

Overall, these are encouraging results, since teens are known to be highly vulnerable to marijuana and THC. Some studies have shown that heavy marijuana use at an early age (below 15 years old) can have some negative effects on the brain – causing a decline in cognitive functions, memory and level of concentration. Since these are the lowest levels of cannabis use in teens since 1994, this is good news.

“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.