Marijuana Use and Perception Among Youth
“Do kids even use marijuana anymore? Is weed popular? Should I be concerned that my child smokes marijuana?” At NJFAI we hear these questions all the time from parents in Morris County. Most of the questions fall into one of two categories:
- How common marijuana use is among youth?
- Is marijuana use harmful?
Studies on Use and Perceptions
In answering these questions we turn to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). They study the causes and effects of drug use and addiction. NIDA routinely conducts surveys to examine youth use of alcohol and drugs. They also examine youths’ feelings about alcohol and drug use. Basically NIDA studies what teens use, how frequently the use, and how they feel about using.
In 2017 NIDA provided funding to the University of Michigan to conduct a survey to measure teen drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes. Over 43,000 students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade participated in the survey. The graphic below shows the frequency of marijuana use among and their attitudes towards marijuana use.
This survey produced some troubling statistics.
71% of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana use as harmful.
Now the good news is that 64.7% of seniors disapprove of regular smoking. However perceptions inform action. It is concerning that 7 out of 10 high school seniors aren’t aware of the harmful effects of marijuana.
Research has clearly shown that childhood marijuana use is harmful and can affect:
- Learning ability
- Decision making
5.9% of 12th graders reported daily marijuana use.
Marijuana use has trended down from very high levels in the 70’s. However the table below clearly shows that it is still very popular among youth. Up to 43.60% of 12th graders report that they have used marijuana in their life.
|Trends in Prevalence of Marijuana / Hashish or 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders|
|Drug||Time Period||8th Graders||10th Graders||12th Graders|
|Marijuana / Hashish||Lifetime||13.90||32.60||43.60|
Not every person who smokes marijuana will become addicted. However 1 out of 20 high school seniors are daily smokers. The brain does not finish developing until around 25 years old. The last region to develop is the prefrontal cortex which has many functions including impulse control.
Simply put teen brains have not developed enough for them to self-regulate. For example they struggle with making logical decisions. They are like a car that has weak brake lines. Teens seek to maximize rewards and minimize unpleasant feelings and struggle to make non-impulsive decisions.
What Do I Do if I or a Loved One is Struggling with Marijuana?
Marijuana use is not the most dangerous activity in the world. However it is important to realize that there are negative effects from smoking marijuana. Seeking out additional information which you can find on this website and others is a good start. We are the New Jersey Family and Addiction Institute are happy to provide whatever assistance we can. Please reach out to us to schedule a consultation so we can determine an appropriate course of action.