Obtaining Marijuana Easy for Youth

Main Findings:

In 1999, 57 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 agreed that obtaining marijuana would be easy.

Nearly 25 percent of youths agreed that a lot of drug selling occurs in their neighborhoods; one in six had been approached by someone selling drugs in the month before the survey.

More than 25 percent of youths who had been approached by someone selling drugs in the month before the survey had used marijuana in the past month.

According to the 1999 NHSDA, more than half of youths aged 12 to 17 (i.e., 12.7 million nationwide) reported that marijuana would be fairly or very easy to obtain if they wanted some. Approximately one in four youths (5.5 million) either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that a lot of drug selling went on in their neighborhoods, and almost one in six youths (3.6 million) had been approached by someone selling drugs in the month before the survey. An estimated 42 percent of youths (9.5 million) reported that a few, most, or all of their friends used marijuana. Approximately 29 percent of youths (6.5 million) reported that a few, most, or all of the adults they knew used marijuana. Approximately 12 percent (2.7 million) reported that most or all of their friends used marijuana, and approximately 4 percent (860,000) reported that most or every adult they knew used marijuana.

Overall, approximately 7 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 reported using marijuana in the month before the survey. Past month marijuana use was higher among youths who had been exposed to risk factors associated with marijuana use than among youths who had not been exposed to these factors. More than one in four youths who had been approached by someone selling drugs in the month before the survey had used marijuana in the past month. Compared with youths who reported that none of their friends used marijuana (0.5 percent), youths who reported that a few, some, or all of their friends used marijuana were more than 30 times as likely to have used marijuana in the past month (17 percent). Youths were also 9 times more likely to have used marijuana in the past month if they knew any adults who used marijuana compared with youths who did not know any adult marijuana users.

Summary

In 1999, more than half of youths aged 12 to 17 reported that they could obtain marijuana fairly or very easily if they wanted it. Marijuana was available from a variety of sources. One in four youths agreed that there was a lot of drug selling in their neighborhood, and almost one in six had been approached by someone selling drugs in the month before the survey. Almost half of youths had friends who used marijuana, and more than one in four knew adults who used marijuana. Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than youths of other racial/ethnic groups to report exposure to several risk factors associated with marijuana use. The rate of past month marijuana use was significantly higher among youths who reported exposure to these risk factors than among those who were not exposed to these factors.

Source: SAMHSA 1999 NHSDA.