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Prevent the inappropriate use of drugs

% of students in grades 9 through 12 who used cannabis (marijuana) in the past month

Current Value




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Story Behind the Curve

Updated: January 2024

Author: Division of Substance Use Programs, Vermont Department of Health

This indicator, or population measure, is part of our Healthy Vermonters 2030 data set. Read more about how this data helps us understand and improve the well-being of people in Vermont on the Healthy Vermonters 2030 webpage.

Because this data is meant to show how the health of our state changes during the decade from 2020-2030, some indicators may have very few data points for now. Keep checking back to see the progress our public health system and partners are making.

We would like to see the percent of high school students who use marijuana to go down to 19% or below by 2030.

In Vermont more adolescents are in treatment for cannabis disorders than any other substance, including alcohol. Reduced perception of risk among youth is likely influenced by many state and community-wide factors such as changes in cannabis policy, access, and norms. Cannabis use among adolescents continues to be an issue of concern, especially with the opening of the retail cannabis market in 2022. Vaping of cannabis among adolescents has been increasing, as has the use of concentrates (dabbing).

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Why Is This Important?

Research has shown that early (i.e. adolescent) and persistent use of cannabis can have several adverse effects on thinking, judgment, and physical and mental health. Early and persistent use of cannabis has been associated with chronic bronchitis, increased risks of several cancers, attention and memory impairment, and significant reduction in IQ, as well as increased risk of serious mental illness. There is an association between early cannabis use and subsequent abuse of other illegal drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. Other recent research has demonstrated that cannabis use in adolescence has a negative impact on college degree attainment, adult income, and measures at age 25 of relationship and life satisfaction. 

High school students who reported using cannabis before age 13 were more likely to report past 30-day use than those who were older when they first used.

Equity and Impact

Early use is particularly important from a health equity lens due to the association between early cannabis use and adverse health outcomes related to brain development, neurocognitive functioning, and mental health.

How We Can Improve

  • Communications campaigns
  • Screening for adolescent cannabis users identified by pediatricians or school authorities
  • Parental monitoring of behavior and peer affiliations
  • School-based prevention curricula focused on cannabis
  • Continued legal sanctions on possession and use of cannabis

Notes on Methodology

We use the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) as the data source for this indicator. The YRBS is conducted every two years on odd numbered years.  

YRBS reports this by grade level (9-12), sex, race/ethnicity (only 2 variables: Black, Indigenous, People of Color or BIPOC or White non-Hispanic), sexual orientation/gender identity (LGBT vs not LGBT), method of use (vaping), use of other substances (i.e., tobacco).

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Scorecard Container Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy