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Healthy Kids: Marijuana

This interactive dashboard and analysis explore marijuana in Colorado's high schools using data from the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.
Published: January 23, 2017 | Updated: May 3, 2017

In 2013, one of five Colorado high schoolers said they recently had used marijuana. Two years later, not much had changed, even though retail marijuana sales to adults became legal in 2014.

Colorado high school usage climbed just one percentage point to 21 percent by 2015, according to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. Not only was that little changed from 2013, it was lower than the national average of 22 percent.

Some students in Colorado — those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB), older or multiracial — are more likely to use marijuana than others, the survey shows. High schoolers in western Colorado are more likely to use marijuana than those on the Eastern Plains.

  • The highest rate of use was among LGB students. One of three (35 percent) said they had used marijuana compared with one of five (20 percent) heterosexual students.
  • Nearly 28 percent of 12th graders said they had used marijuana at least once during the past 30 days compared with 12 percent of ninth graders, according to the survey.
  • About 28 percent of multiracial students had used marijuana in the past month compared with about 24 percent of Hispanic students and 20 percent of white students.
  • High school students in eastern Colorado had lower rates of marijuana use than those on the Western Slope and southwest Colorado. About 10 percent of high school students in Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties — Health Statistics Region (HSR) 5 on the Eastern Plains — used marijuana compared with about one of four students (24.5 percent) in Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, Grand and Summit counties (HSR 12).

Other regions in Colorado with above average percentages of high school students using marijuana are Denver County (HSR 20); Dolores, Montezuma, La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan counties (HSR 9); and Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Grand and Summit counties (HSR 12).  

While overall rates of marijuana use did not increase significantly, the northwestern Colorado counties of Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt (HSR 11) recorded the biggest jump in the state, climbing five percentage points.

The biggest drop came in the southwestern counties of Delta, Gunnison, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray and Hinsdale (HSR 10), where usage fell by nine percentage points.

Fewer Colorado students view regular marijuana use as a concern. Just under half (48 percent) said it was risky in 2015, down from 54 percent in 2013.