Youth marijuana use peaked in 1979. As a result, by the early 1980s, a wave of anxious people swept over the entire country looking for ways to turn the tide of drug use. The national mood dramatically shifted from tolerant attitudes toward drug use to “no drug use messages.”

National education/prevention campaigns began which sought to protect the country’s youth and the character of the American people. In 1979, youth marijuana use had reached 51 percent for 12th-graders’ lifetime use, but by 1992 marijuana use had dropped to 21 percent. A year later, 1993, marijuana use began rising and peaked in 1997 at 37.8 percent.

Marijuana use then began a downward course reaching 27.9 percent in 2008. Since 2008, use has climbed to 32.0 percent in 2013.

Youth Marijuana Use Fluctuations

Attitudes are an indicator of use. In 1975, 18.1 percent of 12th-graders surveyed indicated there was harm associated with smoking marijuana occasionally. In 1991, 40.6 percent and in 2013, 19.5 percent indicated there was harm associated with smoking marijuana occasionally.

Messages youth receive are an indicator of use. In 1975, 54.8 percent of 12th-graders disapproved of people (who are 18 or older) smoking marijuana occasionally. In 1990, 80.5 percent and in 2013, 58.9 percent disapproved of smoking marijuana occasionally.1

Sources:

1 Monitoring the Future National Survey Results On Drug Use, 1975 – 2013, 2013 Overview Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use, http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2013.pdf