Results from the 2012 WA State Healthy Youth Survey show a relatively small yet gradual increase in cannabis use by youth over the past 8-10 years, especially amongst 12th graders. While most students do not use cannabis, roughly 1 in 5 10th graders and 1 in 4 12th graders said they had used cannabis in the past month.
The decrease in the number of students who see regular cannabis use as harmful or risky is concerning. History tells us that a decrease in the perception of risk tends to be followed by an increase in use. This could mean that cannabis use by youth will increase in the future.
Because brain development continues to occur until approximately age 25, parents should be concerned about youth cannabis use. Youth who use cannabis may have:
Increased difficulty with learning and memory
Distorted thinking and perception
(exaggerated or irrational thoughts)
Adolescents who begin using cannabis before the age of 14 are four times more likely to become addicted by the time they are adults.
The good news is that teens do listen to their parents. One of the key reasons they choose not to use drugs is because they know their parents don’t approve.
What Can I Do?
There are many resources available for parents that can help you:
Know the laws
Understand the health risks of youth cannabis use
Talk to your kids about cannabis
Recognize signs of cannabis use
Get help when needed
Resources for Parents
Know the Facts / What Parents Should Know (English version)
(Also available in Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese)
A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage cannabis Use
(available in English and Spanish)
The National Institute on Drug Abuse website has the following available:
cannabis: Facts Parents Need to Know
- Preventing Drug Abuse Among Children & Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call: WA Recovery Helpline at 1.866.789.1511.