A new survey came out of Colorado recently that claims teen tobacco use is at an all-time low, Alcohol is the drug of choice and that Marijuana use among teens in Colorado has not gone up. In fact, the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, suggests that teen marijuana use has actually gone down.
In talking with a few people that are in the know in Colorado I have found that the Healthy Kids survey did not use complete data. It appears that two of the biggest school districts in the state were not included in the survey data. Colorado Springs School District 11 declined to participate in the survey due to the compliants of parents from a prior internal survey to the state survey. With D11 refusing to participate that eliminates about 28,000 kids from being included. Lewis-Palmer School District 38 also did not participate in the survey with a District Representative stating that "This survey has raised a great deal of concern across the state,".
Several Legalization Opponents have expressed concern of the survey saying that it may be biased. Since taking the survey was voluntary some think that those who use marijuana might not have wanted to participate in it. “That’s really in the area where I have concerns about reliability,” is what David Murray, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former chief scientist at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the LA times in an interview. I have also had people express to me that the survey was only conducted with kids who were in school. What about those kids that dropped out because of their drug use?
Another factor contradicting the "Marijuana use among teens is flat" argument is last years SAMSHA Survey which showed an increase from 11.16% (2013) to 12.56% (2014) of Colorado teens 12-17 years old who had used marijuana in the past 30 days. That survey has Colorado leading the nation in teen marijuana use. In the Top 6 of that survey are Oregon (2014), Washington State and Washington D.C. (2014), all of which have legalized marijuana for recreational use and have had Medical Marijuana programs in place since 2010 or earlier.
The bottom line here is how can we trust a survey that has not included school districts in areas that have been known to have high teen use? Passing incomplete data is the same as lying. Hopefully we can get a uniform surey system in place so we can gauge the actual impact of marijuana legalization on teen use, because so far it is not looking very good. A person with common sense would stop and ask themselves "How can legalizaing a drug and adding access to it not increase teen use?"