The explosion in non-smokable marijuana products that has occurred as more and more states and countries legalize the drug seems to be having its effect, according to the latest large-scale survey on Colorado teen cannabis usage. The investigation, published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics and based on the state government’s biennial health survey, found that 78 percent of Colorado high school marijuana users reported smoking cannabis in 2017. That number stood at 87 percent just two years prior.
Smoking remains the most popular way among survey respondents to consume cannabis, but eating, vaporizing, and dabbing the drug are all on the rise. The percentage of teens who reported eating cannabis rose from two percent in 2015 to 10 percent in 2017. The percentage of those who said they dabbed rose from four percent to 7.5 percent.
“These modes are important to monitor because of their unique psychoactive associations, and potential harms, including unintentional overconsumption with edibles and an increased physiological tolerance and withdrawal associated with the high tetrahydrocannabinol levels of cannabis concentrates used for dabbing,” wrote the researchers in the text of the study.
They’re not the only ones that have been eschewing smokable weed at higher rates — market experts say that adults are also opting for non-smoking products more and more, according to what vice president of cannabis investment and market research organization The ArcView Group David Abernathy told the Colorado Sun.
As the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, Colorado is often seen as a harbinger of what lies ahead in other cannabis-regulated areas. When it comes to teen use of the drug, most tidings have been relatively comforting. In March, a survey of 55,000 teens found that average marijuana consumption was not just falling after the state regulated the drug in 2014, but that rates have dropped below the national average. (Nationally, some 80 percent of teenagers say that they do not consume marijuana, and in Colorado that number stands at 81 percent.)
Colorado state authorities take the state’s role as a pioneer in regulation seriously. “We are in certain ways leading the country in trying to figure out what are the right questions to ask and how do you ask those questions,” said Jessica Neuwirth, who works as the retail marijuana education and youth prevention coordinator of Colorado’s Department of Health.
Sales of cannabis have risen steadily in Colorado since legalization, according to the state’s latest market report. The fact that $6 billion of cannabis has been sold garnering $1 billion since regulation, should be of some comfort to the policymakers in states that have delayed regulation due to concerns over possible rises in underage consumption.
Time will tell how those numbers will be affected by a recently planned expansion in the places where it is legal to consume marijuana. In May, a bill was singed into effect that authorizes the existence of social consumption venues like cafes, limo services, and tasting rooms.
In other points of interest from the state government’s teen cannabis survey; 40 percent of adolescents reported buying their weed from a non-dispensary source. Three percent said that they got it directly from a dispensary, which is a good thing as you must legally be 21 years or older to shop for marijuana in Colorado.