Colorado adults’ use of marijuana now greatly exceeds the national average, and the state raked in more than $6 billion from pot products since 2014.
The number of Colorado adults who said they used pot in the previous 30 days increased from 13.6 percent in 2016 to 15.5 percent in 2017, well above the national average of 9.5 percent, says a new study released by the state’s Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee.
Residents aged 18 to 25 used the most, at 29.2 percent, but use by those aged 26 to 34 spiked from 19.4 percent in 2016 to 26.4 percent in 2017.
Use remained higher among men, 19.8 percent, than women, 11.2 percent, in 2017.
Daily or near-daily use increased — from 6.4 percent in 2016 to 7.6 percent in 2017 — but remains much lower than binge drinking or tobacco use.
Marijuana use during pregnancy, by adolescents and in homes with children should “continue to guide public health education and prevention efforts,” says a news release from the state health department.
State law requires the committee “to monitor emerging science and medical information about marijuana use and report its findings every other year.”
Among other findings:
• In 2017, 7.8 percent of pregnant women used marijuana. The statistic has been stable since 2014, but it’s higher among women who are younger, have less education or have unintended pregnancies. Pot use in pregnancy is said to cut cognitive function and create attention problems in childhood.
• Unintentional marijuana consumption among children younger than 9, and all emergency visits due to marijuana, are on “a slow upward trend,” though hospitalizations have decreased. Marijuana is stored unsafely in an estimated 23,000 homes with children, the release says. But most homes with children don’t contain marijuana, and those that do have it stored safely.
• Marijuana use among high school students “remains stable and is less than alcohol and nicotine vaping use,” but dabbing and edible use have significantly increased. Adolescents’ use of marijuana in the past 30 days is similar to the national average.
• Among high school seniors who have used marijuana, 82.1 percent first tried it by age 16. About 5 percent of high school students used marijuana 20 or more times in the past 30 days, a percentage that has remained stable since 2005.
• Three percent of adults drive soon after using pot, and 29 percent of high school students have driven while on pot or ridden in a vehicle driven by someone who had been using marijuana. Neither statistic changed in recent years.
• Since 2014, adult and adolescent usage has remained consistently higher in southwest Colorado.
“Sound science guides our efforts to protect Coloradans’ health,” Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in the news release. “It’s critical we continue to monitor use in all populations and work to minimize harms that could result from a variety of causes including unintended poisoning, unsafe driving, and mental health issues that may be associated with long-term, habitual use.”
The popular drug topped $1.54 billion in sales in Colorado last year, the most since 2014, reports the Colorado Department of Revenue. The state collected $266.5 million in taxes on marijuana products and other industry fees last year, up from 2017’s $247 million.
El Paso County has two recreational marijuana shops, both in Manitou Springs. Tuesday, the City Council in Manitou passed a resolution reaffirming the two-store cap on recreational marijuana shops.
Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, permitting the sale and use of recreational marijuana for adults. Sales began in 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ellie is a crime and breaking news reporter. She’s a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper’s staff in 2016.