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% of adults age 18-24 who used cannabis in the last 30 days

Current Value




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Story Behind the Curve

Updated: February 2023

Author: Division Substance Use Programs, Vermont Department of Health

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, use among Vermonters is consistently among the highest in the country and is the highest for 12-17 and 18–25 year-olds. Legal status of cannabis in Vermont has changed significantly over the past two decades. In 2004, the Vermont legislature voted to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes and in 2013 penalties for possession of one ounce or less were reduced to a fine. In July 2018, legislation went into effect legalizing possession, private consumption, and limited cultivation among persons aged 21 years and older. Most recently, Vermont's regulated market opened in 2022 and people age 21 and over are now able to purchase cannabis products in Vermont. Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.


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. 


Additional information is available in the Vermont Health Impact Assessment.   

Why Is This Important?

Vermont adults who recently used cannabis are generally more likely to have poor health, compared with those who have not used cannabis.  A similar pattern is seen when comparing regular cannabis users, and less frequent users. Particularly striking are differences in reported poor mental health between recent and nonrecent cannabis users and regular and nonregular users.  Recent and regular cannabis users are more than twice as likely to report poor mental health than their non/less frequent cannabis user counterparts. These differences are statistically significant and remain when age is accounted for.


  • Colleges
  • Physicians
  • Department of Mental Health
  • Substance Use Prevention Coalitions
  • Families

What Works

Communications campaigns; screening for young adult cannabis use by health care providers or school authorities; positive peer affiliations; continued legal sanctions on possession and use of cannabis.

Notes on Methodology

The Vermont Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, or BRFSS, has included questions on cannabis in each year since 2007 except 2014, allowing us to assess recent use, as well as changes over time.  Additional information is available in the BRFSS report.


Information included on this page drew from research and the established literature.


For more information, please see:

The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, an expert, ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine presents nearly 100 conclusions related to the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoid use.


Vermont Health Impact Assessment

Clear Impact Suite is an easy-to-use, web-based software platform that helps your staff collaborate with external stakeholders and community partners by utilizing the combination of data collection, performance reporting, and program planning.

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