October 23, 2019  Last Update: November 27, 2017, 8:52 pm

Heavy Marijuana Use Up 80% for US Teens

The 2012 American Teen attitude survey on drug and alcohol use is out, produced by Partnership at Drug Free

The Whitehouse today announced that “heavy” marijuana use among American teens is up 80%, and has been steadily increasing over the past 3 years. The “heavy use” is defined as using pot 20 or more times in the past 30 days. The study notes that the “past month” use numbers jumped substantially, up 42%. In fact, while “heavy use” is most remarkable, all levels of use are up.

Is it any wonder that teen use of marijuana is up? With many states declaring it safe, useful, and legal if medically prescribed, and marijuana dispensaries popping up in just about every community, weed appears to be more popular than ever. For today’s teens, “today” levels must be compared to levels of marijuana availability between 2000 and 2012. In American history, those are among the leanest years for contraband. They include the ramping up of the “war on drugs”, and the militarization of forces such as the DEA, border patrols, and local police. It probably doesn’t help that teen employment is almost non-existent today, career paths are poorly defined, and the media is full of depictions of drug involvement.

The Partnership at DrugFree released the study, called The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study. It noted that these levels are the highest observed since 1998.

Among the findings:

  • 9% of teens smoked marijuana heavily in the past month
  • 39% of teens smoked marijuana in the past year
  • 47% of teens report having smoked pot at some point in lifetime
  • Only 26% say “most teens at my school don’t smoke marijuana”
  • 71% say they have friends who use marijuana “regularly”
  • 61% say they disapprove of their friends use of marijuana

While the debate continues about whether or not marijuana is a “gateway drug”, the Partnership at DrugFree cites statistics showing “heavy” marijuana use is statistically associated with illicit substance use and dependence later in life:

  • heavy pot users are 30 times more likely to use cocaine/crack
  • heavy marijuana users are 20 times more likely to use ecstasy (MDMA)
  • heavy marijuana users are 15 times more likely to abuse prescription pain medications (opiates)
  • heavy marijuana users are 14 times more likely to abuse over-the-counter medications

Interesting observation: Fewer teen girls admit to abusing prescription medications to “get high or alter your mood” (down 30%) while the levels for teen boys remained the same as last year.

Please share this with your network to help raise awareness (pick one or more):

Hey parents: pot smoking teens are 30 times more likely to later abuse cocaine/crack! Pay attention!
New study: nearly 10% of American teens smoked pot 20 or more times PER MONTH!
Wow... teen pot use way up, ecstasy use up, cigarettes down, alcohol continues as usual. Latest data:


Some other trends noted:

Teen Inhalant Use (huffing): usage down 10% while belief it is dangerous is also down

Teen Smoking: down 22%

Teen Alcohol Use: “holding steady” at 56%

Teen Methamphetamine Use:  remained at 4%

Teen Cocaine/Crack Use: steady at 7%

Teen Ecstasy (MDMA) Use: now 9%,  up 50% since 2008 levels


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