The Washington Post

How high schoolers use pot, in three maps

A fully budded marijuana plant. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Nearly a fourth of high school students reported smoking marijuana within the 30 days preceding being asked, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, a finding that is statistically no different from a decade earlier.

In fact, from 2003 to 2013, no state has seen a statistically significant rise in the rates of high schoolers who report having used marijuana: before age 13; within the past 30 days; or ever. In every case, rates were either higher in 2003 than 2013 or showed no statistically significant difference.

The data comes from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, an annual set of surveys that tracks all kinds of risky behaviors among the nation’s children. Among its other conclusions are that rates of teen drinking, smoking and fighting have declined. More than 13,000 high school students voluntarily and anonymously responded to the survey last spring, with parental permission. Data for some states was unavailable in 2003, 2013 or both, and males across the board and across all states reported higher rates of pot use than females.

Tried pot before the age of 13: 8.6 percent

Slightly more than 1 in 12 high schoolers last year reported having tried marijuana before their 13th birthday, according to the data.

New Mexico was home to the highest rate by far. There, 17.3 percent reported trying marijuana that young. Slightly more than 1 in 10 reported trying pot as a youth in four other states: Mississippi, Alaska, Hawaii and Tennessee. Rates were below 1 in 20 in Utah and Idaho.

In no state was the rate last year statistically higher than a decade earlier, according to CDC’s estimations. In 15 states, the 2003 rate was higher in a statistically significant way. The rate was statistically no different in 13 states.

Used marijuana at least once in 30 days before survey: 23.4 percent

Nearly 1 in 4 high schoolers reported smoking pot within the 30 days before they were asked. Exactly one in four high school boys reported smoking pot recently, while 21.9 percent of females reported the same.

Rates were highest — greater than 1 in 4 — in Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut and New Mexico. In New Mexico, 27.8 percent of high school respondents reported recently smoking pot, more than in any other state. Rates were lowest, below 15 percent, in Kansas, Nebraska and Utah. Just 7.6 percent of Utah high schoolers reported smoking marijuana within the past 30 days.

In nine states the rate was higher in 2003 than last year, in a statistically significant way. In 21 states, there was no statistical difference.

Ever used marijuana: 40.7 percent

Just over 2 in 5 high schoolers reported having tried marijuana.

Rates were higher than the national average in seven states, with Arizona being home to the most high schoolers who have tried pot: 43.3 percent. The rate was lowest in Utah, where 16.8 percent of high schoolers reported trying marijuana. Twelve states had higher rates in 2003, while 13 showed no difference between that year and last year.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.



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