A study published in the September 2014 issue of The Lancet Psychiatry found that teenagers who smoke marijuana on a daily basis are more than 60 percent less likely to graduate from high school, as compared to their non-using peers. Adolescents who smoke pot are also 60 percent less likely to graduate from college, seven times more likely to attempt suicide during their lifetime and four times more likely to develop a cannabis dependency.
While researchers focused primarily on the dangers of regular marijuana smoking, Dr. Edmund Silins, study co-author and research fellow in the faculty of medicine at the University of New South Wales’ National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, says that even at low frequencies, the negative effects of teen marijuana use are still noteworthy. “Less-than-monthly use before the age of 17 was also associated with a degree of risk of adverse outcomes,” said Silins.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen marijuana use is on the rise. From 2009 to 2013, the number of American teenagers who have used increased from 36.8 to 40.7 percent, with 8.6 having started before age 13. In New Jersey, these numbers are slightly lower, with 35.3 percent having used in 2011 and 38.9 percent in 2013, and 5.1 percent beginning before 13 years old.
How are middle and high school kids getting their hands on this illicit substance? The CDC reports that 22.1 percent of teens nationwide have been offered, sold or given illegal drugs (including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamines) on school property—in New Jersey, this number jumps up to 30.7 percent.
- 7 percent of Americans ages 12 and up use marijuana regularly.
- 66 percent of illicit drug users ages 12 and up say marijuana was their first drug.
- 48 percent of teens ages 12–17 say it would be "fairly easy" or "very easy" for them to obtain marijuana.
- 79 percent of illicit drug users use marijuana, making it the most commonly used drug.
- 18–25 years olds make up the largest demographic of American marijuana users: 36.2 percent.
- 65 percent of all marijuana users in the U.S. are male. 35 percent are female.