When Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, opponents proclaimed that more permissive attitudes towards pot would trickle down to the kids who would stumble through life a stoned daze and a Cheeto-beard forever marking their faces.
So what do the kids in the Evergreen State think about the pot? State officials decided to ask them.
Earlier this month, the Washington State Department of Health released the results of its Healthy Youth Survey, which asked 200,000 students in 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades in Washington state about their attitudes towards drugs and alcohol.
A press release
accompanying the results of the survey states that teens in Washington state are increasingly viewing alcohol use to be risky and are drinking less. But state officials expressed alarm over the finding that fewer teens considered marijuana use to be risky.
“We’ve got to take the lessons learned about tactics that helped curb tobacco and alcohol use and put them to good use educating our kids about risks of using other substances,” said state Secretary of Health John Wiesman in a prepared statement. “This includes passing laws limiting youth access to vaping products and funding education campaigns to prevent under-age use of marijuana.”
Statewide, one in five 10th graders and one in four 12th graders used marijuana in the last month, rates that have stayed the same since 2010, while tobacco and alcohol use has gone down in recent years. Teens in these grades also consider the drug as less risky. In 2014, 36 percent of 10th graders considered marrijuana to be risky, down from 46 percent in 2012. For 12th graders, 26 percent found it to be risky in 2014 down from 43 percent in 2012.
So how did Spokane County stack up compared to the rest of the state with marijuana use? Here are some highlights:
- According to the survey, Spokane County 10th and 12th graders used pot in the last month at about the same frequency as the rest of the state.
- The majority of 6th through 12th graders have not used pot, although the older they get the more likely they are to try it. Eighty seven percent of 8th graders have never used marijuana, and that number drops to 55 percent for 12th graders. Majorities of kids surveyed considered it to be wrong to use marijuana.
- According to the survey, the most common way 10th and 12th graders got pot was from friends (9 and 14 percent). Small percentages also reported they bought it from a store or got a friend to buy it for them. Less than 2 percent of both 10th and 12th graders got it at home with their parent’s permission.
- About 10 percent of 12th graders say they used pot on school premises, which was bit lower for 10th graders.
- Sixty two percent of 12th graders said it would be “very easy” or “sort of easy” to get marijuana, with just under half of 10th graders saying the same. For alcohol, those numbers are nearly the same.
- Large majorities of 10th and 12th graders thought that if a kid used marijuana they would be not be caught by the police.
Law and policymakers have raised public health concerns about the proliferation of vaporizer or e-cigs. In Spokane County, 30 percent of 12th graders have used the devices, as have 26 percent of 10th graders. But when it comes to pot, most teens still ingest pot by smoking it. Only 2 percent of 12th graders and 1 percent of 10th graders ingest pot using using a vaporizer. Statewide, between 5 and 7 percent of students use a vaporizer to ingest pot.
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