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


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Story Behind the Curve

Updated: Jan 2020


Marijuana use has steadily increased since 2013. The 17% of adults using marijuana in 2018 is significantly higher than the proportion using in 2016 and earlier years and people age 18-24 are more likely to use marijuana than people in other age groups.

Early and persistent use of marijuana can cause long-term adverse effects across several health domains. Of particular concern is the robust relationship between early use and the development of psychotic symptoms especially among those who consume very high potency marijuana. Most of the prospective longitudinal studies began 20-30 years ago when marijuana potency (% of THC) was four to five times lower than it is today. The health effects of this significant increase in marijuana potency will not be known for years to come, but it is likely to amplify outcomes already established in current research. In addition, in January 2017 the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences issued a report titled “Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda.”

Early and continuous use of marijuana also significantly increases the risk of not completing high school, not enrolling in or completing college, low educational achievement, lower income, unemployment and welfare dependence as an adult, premature workforce retirement due to disability, and reduction in IQ in middle adulthood.

Epidemiological studies published in the past 2 decades demonstrate that marijuana use by drivers is associated with a significantly increased crash risk. The crash risk appears to increase progressively with the dose and frequency of marijuana use. (Ashbridge et al. Li et al., 2012)

It is important to look at the reasons why more Vermonters on average are using marijuana and beginning marijuana use earlier than most other states. The Health Department is monitoring how our efforts are making a positive difference with marijuana use, especially among young people in Vermont.



Colleges, Physicians, Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention Coalitions, Families.

What Works

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for marijuana users; continued legal sanctions on possession and use of marijuana.

Why Is This Important?

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

Notes on Methodology

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


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:

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy