Teen Marijuana Use

Teen marijuana use in King County has remained stable, even as other alcohol and illicit drug use has declined.

The safety of marijuana is not well established, and there are potential health risks and harms associated with its use, which is illegal for those under the age of 21. Research shows that marijuana use can have long-term effects on the developing brain when use begins in adolescence, especially with regular or heavy use.

In 2014 and 2016, an average of 15% of King County teens in grades 8, 10 and 12 were current marijuana users (defined as having used marijuana in the last 30 days).

Trends: From 2004-2016, the percentage of teens who use marijuana has remained relatively stable. During this same time period, total teen alcohol and other illegal drug use has declined markedly.  

Race and ethnicity: Teens of Asian descent (7%) were less likely than average to use marijuana, although 2016 data disaggregated by Asian ethnic groups suggest there are some differences in teen marijuana use by Asian ethnic group. Of note, in 2016 14% of teens of Japanese descent and 18% of teens of Cambodian descent were current marijuana users (data not shown). At 19%, Black, Hispanic, Multiple race, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander teens had higher rates of marijuana use than the King County average.  

Grade level: Marijuana use increased with grade level, from 5% among 8th graders up to 25% in 12th graders.  

Sexual orientation: Teens who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual had higher rates of marijuana use (25%) than the King County average. 

Region: Teens in Seattle (19%) and South Region (16%) were more likely to be current users than teens in East Region (12%).  

Other risk factors: Go here for data on teen total alcohol and illegal drug use.


Further resources on marijuana use:

Youth Marijuana Prevention: https://www.kingcounty.gov/youthmarijuana

2016 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey Data Brief: Marijuana:https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/8350/160-NonDOH-DB-MJ.pdf

King County Health and Human Services priorities regarding marijuana legalization:https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/marijuana-health/legalization.aspx

Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html


Notes & Sources

Source: Healthy Youth Survey. Unless otherwise noted, data are from 2014-2016.

Every 2 years, Washington public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades students answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. To learn more about the survey, please go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/HealthyYouthSurvey.

Numerator: Students who answered more than “0 days” to the question: "In the past 30 days, on how many days did you: Use marijuana or hashish (weed, hash, pot)?”

Denominator: All students who answered the question.

Link to: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/data/community-health-indicators/healthy-youth-survey.aspx?shortname=Illicit%20drugs