Teen Marijuana Vaping Is On the Rise
This year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey has revealed some shocking information about teens and substance abuse.
20.8% of 12th graders smoked cannabis last year. 10th graders are right behind with 19.4%, while 7% of 8th graders stated that they had used pot in the past year. Daily cannabis use rates have also increased from 2018, the report published Wednesday indicates.
The number of US high school seniors who said that they had vaped weed at least once in the past month has almost doubled from 7.5% in 2018 to 14% this year. This rise in teen weed vaping is the second biggest annual increase in substance use ever to be recorded in the MTF survey, which has been implemented every year for the past 45 years. The largest increase was recorded in nicotine vaping last year.
This is the first time the survey has measured daily vaping (which is defined as 20 or more times a month). It was determined that 3.5% of 12th graders, 3% of 10th graders, and 0.8% of eighth graders vape cannabis almost every day.
Weed vaping among teens is on the rise, but nicotine vapes are not far behind.
25% of 12th graders said that they had vaped nicotine in the last 30 days, while 11.7% reported that they vaped nicotine every day. This information is concerning, experts say, as kids who vape nicotine are more prone to turn to THC or smoking.
When asked why they vape, 60% of teenagers said that they wanted to see what it was like, 37% said they vape to relax, while 29% of teens stated that use vapes to get high. The percentage of high school seniors who said that they are “hooked” on vapes is also growing — last year only 3.6% said that they vaped because they were addicted. This year that number jumped to 8%.
These figures are particularly alarming in light of recent vape-related lung injuries which have been linked to use of illicit products containing THC. However, it should be noted that the survey was conducted between February and June, before the mysterious lung disease created a nationwide crisis.
Despite association between vaping and the respiratory illness sweeping the country, vapes still pose a lower health risk than smoking traditional cigarettes, if the product is of highest quality. Luckily, smoking rates have decreased among youths. Prescription opioids and alcohol use is also declining, the survey showed.
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, believes that the prevalence of vaping among the nation’s teenagers is mostly due to low perceived risk of cannabis. She says that teens are less convinced of the harmful effects of cannabis, not to mention the cool tech that allows them to smoke THC without the smell and thus lowers their chances of getting caught.
Will the lung disease outbreak discourage teens from vaping? We’ll have to wait and see next year, although experts seem to be confident that teen vaping rates will go down in 2020.