The report culled data from state and national agencies to determine drug usage rates in each state and the District. In 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services released data showing that drug and alcohol use among high school teens has dropped steadily over the past decade, with the rate of regular alcohol use among those ages 12 to 17 declining from 17.6 to 11.6 percent between 2002 and 2013. The rate of marijuana usage, despite legalization in some states, also declined.
So just how much are high school students drinking and smoking?
Here are the five jurisdictions with the highest percentage of high school students who report smoking marijuana in the past 30 days:
- D.C., 32.2 percent
- New Mexico, 27.8 percent
- Washington, 26.7 percent
- Connecticut, 26 percent
- Vermont 25.7 percent
Here at the five states with the highest percentage of high school students who reported binge drinking in the past 30 days:
- West Virginia, 24.4 percent
- Montana, 23.5 percent
- New Jersey, 23 percent
- Iowa, 23 percent
- Arkansas 22.9 percent
The District, which had the highest marijuana usage rate, had the second-lowest binge-drinking rate — 12 percent — and the lowest rate for prescription drug abuse, at 7.3 percent. New Mexico high school students had the highest rate of cocaine usage in the past 30 days, at 10.3 percent, and Arkansas had the highest rate of prescription drug usage, at 21.5 percent.
Project Know didn’t provide an explanation as to why D.C. had such a high marijuana usage rate, although states along the coasts and some Southwest and Midwest states generally had higher marijuana use rates than binge-drinking rates. The District is an urban area, and because the report only looked at states, it’s hard to see how drug usage among high-schoolers in the District stacks up against drug usage in other cities.
The report used data from before marijuana was legalized in the District, so no link between the D.C. marijuana law — which makes it legal for adults 21 and older to possess or consume marijuana — can be drawn to teenage usage rates. Furthermore, a recent study looked at rates of marijuana use among Colorado’s teenagers since it was legalized there in 2012, and found that marijuana use is essentially unchanged among teenagers.
Read the full report here.