Last Updated: Jan 2020
Author: State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup, Vermont Department of Health
According tothe Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), past 30-day marijuana use among high school students increased significantly between 2015 and 2017 and again between 2017 and 2019 as discussions of legal adult use has been debated by the Vermont legislature. In 2019, more than a quarter of high school students used marijuana during the past 30 days and six percent of students reported using marijuana before age 13. While all demographic groups are at risk for using substance such as marijuana, some groups report higher use than others. LGBT high school students (35%) are significantly more likely than their heterosexual peers (26%) to report using during the past 30 days.
Research has shown that early (i.e. adolescent) and persistent use of marijuana can have several adverse effects on thinking, judgment, and physical and mental health. Early and persistent use of marijuana 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 marijuana use and subsequent abuse of other illegal drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. Other recent research has demonstrated that marijuana use in adolescence has a negative impact on college degree attainment, adult income, and measures at age 25 of relationship and life satisfaction. In Vermont more adolescents are in treatment for marijuana disorders than any other substance including alcohol. Reduced perception of risk among youth is likely influenced by many communitywide factors such as changes in marijuana policy and norms.
ADAP works with public and private colleges across the state to plan and host an annual College Symposium that for the last two years has been focused on marijuana use and its impact on health and academics. In addition, reduction of 30-day marijuana use among youth and young adults is the goal for both our statewide Regional Prevention Partnerships (RPP) and School-based Substance Abuse Services (SBSAS) grants to 20 supervisory unions across the state. Prevention strategies include education, local policy education and enhancements, assessment and planning, screening, family education, capacity building and youth and young adult focused activities. In addition to the evidence-based strategies being implemented by the grantees, VDH maintains the Parent UP website featuring a section on marijuana education for parents.