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Marijuana vaping and edible use increasing among high school seniors

Science Highlight

April 06, 2020

Group of teens lined up on school stairwell Courtesy of NIDA

A new analysis suggests that among adolescent marijuana users, smoking marijuana has become less prevalent, eclipsed by vaping and edibles. In addition, those who vaped THC or consumed edibles were more likely to use marijuana daily. The findings were just published as a Research Letter in JAMA Pediatrics.

Scientists examined data from the Monitoring the Future Survey, which annually documents the self-reported substance use of thousands of young people in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. The investigators looked at the prevalence of different modes of marijuana use, including smoking, dabbing, eating, and vaping among students in the 12th grade surveyed between 2015-2018.

During that time period, the percentage of 12th graders smoking marijuana decreased, while vaping and edible use increased—with overall marijuana use remaining steady. Among past year users of marijuana, the percentage of respondents saying they smoked it decreased to 89.3% in 2018 from 94.7% in 2015. Yet in the same group, those who say they used marijuana edibles increased to 39.5% in 2018 from 32.0% in 2015. Similarly, those who say they vaped marijuana in 2018 rose to 34.1% from 26.4% in 2015. It is notable that most noncombustible marijuana users also say they smoked marijuana. Of past year users, 30.5% said they used dabbing, a method used to inhale high THC marijuana concentrates.

In 2018, daily use of marijuana was reported as more common among vape and edible users than smokers. In fact, more than one quarter of students who vaped or used edibles in the past year say they used marijuana daily in the past month. Daily marijuana use was reported by 17.6% of the marijuana smokers, 28.5% of the vapers, and 26.7% of those using edibles.

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