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Washington State Teens Are No Longer Partying With Booze And Marijuana: But Why?

Nearly three out of four Washington State 10th graders say they have not touched cannabis or marijuana in the past month, according to results from the 2016 Washington Healthy Youth Survey.

The survey, a collaborative effort of the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Health, the Department of Social and Health Service’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, and the Liquor and Cannabis Board, is taken every two years by students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12.

The students voluntarily answer a wide variety of questions about their health behaviors. In 2016, more than 230,000 students in over 1,000 schools from 236 school districts in all 39 counties took part.

“On the marijuana side, we’re pleased that we have not seen an increase in marijuana use the last two years,” said Michael Langer of the Department of Social and Health Services.

Alcohol use by 10th graders has dropped by 12 percentage points since 2006. However, the number of students who use alcohol has not changed since 2014. In 2016, one out of five 10th graders (a total of about 16,737 students) drank alcohol in the past month. Alcohol plays a significant role in all three leading causes of death among youth: injuries, suicides and homicides.

Here are some key points of the study:

Rates of teen marijuana use have remained steady, despite the changing landscape.

  • In 2016, six percent of 8th graders, 17 percent of 10th graders, and 26 percent of 12th graders reported past 30-day marijuana use.
  • About half of those who used marijuana in the past month indicated they used on six or more days: 41 percent of 8th graders, 45 percent of 10th graders, and 52 percent of 12th graders.

The majority of current marijuana users, about two-thirds of 8th and three-quarters of 10th and 12th graders, usually smoke marijuana.

  • A much smaller percentage reported usually eating, drinking, or vaping marijuana.
  • There was a decline from 2014 in 12th grade current users who usually vaporized it (7percent to 5 percent).

Perceived ease of obtaining marijuana remained stable (8th & 12th grade) or declined (10th grade) between 2014 and 2016.

  • Fewer 10th graders thought marijuana was “very easy” to obtain in 2016 (27%) than 2014 (32 percent).
  • Among 8th and 12th graders, the percentage believing marijuana is very easy to obtain held steady, but about 40 percent of 12th graders think it’s very easy to get.

Where teens obtain marijuana may be changing.

  • Of those who obtained marijuana in the past month, the percentage buying it at a store decreased from 2014 to 2016 among 8th graders (11 percent to 5 percent) and 10th graders (9% to 6 percent).
  • Among 12th graders who obtained marijuana, the percentage getting it from friends decreased (63 percent to 57 percent) and giving money to someone else to purchase it increased (16 percent to 19 percent).

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