Utah’s Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) survey found that while youth cannabis use rates are up in the state as its neighbors legalized cannabis, use rates among 10th and 12th graders have dropped since 2017 and cannabis use rates for adolescents as a whole largely remained the same in 2019 following the rise from 2015 to 2017.
Utah is bordered by Colorado, which legalized cannabis in 2014, and Nevada, where voters approved the reforms in 2016.
For Utah sixth-graders, cannabis use over the last 30 days remained at 0.5 percent from 2017 to 2019 – up from 0.3 percent in 2015, according to the report. Use by eighth-graders jumped from 3.2 percent to 4.5 percent from 2017 to 2019; use by 10th graders dropped from 9.3 percent to 8.8 percent, and from 12.3 percent to 11.5 percent for 12th graders. Overall, 6.2 percent of students surveyed had used cannabis over the last month, which remained steady with 2017 figures but up from 5.2 percent in 2015. By comparison, 5.5 percent of students in the survey had used alcohol in the last 30 days.
A strong majority (96.3 percent) of the students said their parents would think it were “wrong” to use cannabis; while 73.4 percent of students said there is “great risk” of harm associated with cannabis use – a decrease from 76.5 percent in 2015 but a slight increase from 72.4 percent in 2017.
The survey is conducted by the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. A 2018 Centers for Disease Control study found that Utah’s 6.3 percent ten cannabis use rates in 2017 were tied with Louisiana for the lowest in the country.
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