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Adolescent Marijuana Use Increases in California

February 19, 2021

Adolescents in California reported significant increases in marijuana use in the years following the legalization of adult recreational marijuana use in 2016, according to data published this week in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Researchers reviewed data from the California Healthy Kids survey from the 2010-11 to 2018-19 school years, with participants in the 7th, 9th and 11th grades. Marijuana use within the past 30 days (23% increase) and lifetime use (18%) each significantly increased among nearly all demographics from the 2017-18 school year to 2018-19.

Lead researcher Mallie J. Paschall, PhD, senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, California, said greater increases observed among younger adolescents, females, non-Hispanic and White students—historically low-usage groups—after adult recreational legalization was “concerning.”

The researchers who conducted the study suggested that the increased availability of marijuana, non-smoking products such as edibles, and vaping products each could have contributed to increases observed in adolescent marijuana use.

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