Survey Finds Decline In Youth Cannabis Use

A new survey is showing a decline in cannabis use by youths in 2021.

The Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, which was taken by more than 32,000 students from 319 schools, utilized data on adolescent attitudes toward drugs and drug behavior from 1975 through 2021.

Students completed the survey between February and June 2021.

The survey received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

MTF says the latest results showed a significant decline in cannabis use among 8th, 10th, and 12th in 2021, despite more-widespread legalization across the country.

According to MTF, survey results show that, compared to more than 11 percent of 8th graders who reported using cannabis in 2020, only 7.1 percent reported using it in 2021.

The percentage dropped from 28 to 17.2 among 10th graders and 35.5 to 30 among 12th graders.

MTF says the data supports the argument that cannabis legalization for adults does not lead to increased underage use.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D. says 2021 is the first time they’ve seen such dramatic decreases in teen drug use in one year.

“These data are unprecedented and highlight one unexpected potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused seismic shifts in the day-to-day lives of adolescents,” says Volkow. “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.”

The University of Michigan conducted the survey and found that the daily, 30-day, and lifetime cannabis use among adolescents declined along with nicotine vaping, alcohol, and other drugs.

According to researchers, the decline in cannabis use observed over the past year was especially steep when compared to the consumption of other substances.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano says the survey results are additional proof that cannabis legalization can happen without an increased risk to adolescents.

“These latest findings add to the growing body of scientific literature showing that marijuana regulation policies can be implemented in a manner that provides access for adults,” says Armentano. “While simultaneously limiting your access and misuse.”