Teens' Marijuana Use on the Rise: SANDAG - NBC Southern California

Teens' Marijuana Use on the Rise: SANDAG

The study shows more than half tried pot before alcohol or tobacco.

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 7: A budtender handles marijuana at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. A group of activists have submitted about 50,000 signatures in an effort to force a referendum on a marijuana dispensary ban in Los Angeles to take effect next week. A minimum of 27,425 valid signatures from registered voters is needed to let voters decide on the issue in March, and until the number can be verified, the ban will not be enforced. . The ban would not prevent patients or cooperatives of two or three people to grow their own in small amounts. Californians voted to legalize medical cannabis use in 1996, clashing with federal drug laws. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    Marijuana use among juveniles in the criminal justice systems are on the rise in San Diego and more of them believe the drug to be harmless, according to a report released Friday.

    The report by the San Diego Association of Governments Criminal Justice Research Division found that more than half of the juveniles surveyed in 2017 tried marijuana before either alcohol or tobacco.

    The report was compiled by surveying youth within 48 hours of their arrest and booking to Juvenile Hall about their drug use.

    Nine out of 10 juveniles surveyed had used marijuana in the past month and the average of first use was 12.4 years old, according to the report.

    Of those who had used marijuana in the past month, used it an average of 16 1/2 days out of the past 30, the report found.

    Almost half the juveniles surveyed tested positive for marijuana at the time of the questioning.

    “Efforts to prevent youth substance abuse are more important than ever given the changes in state law decriminalizing marijuana use combined with the higher concentration of THC levels in marijuana, and new products such as marijuana edibles. All this makes it easier to abuse the drug,” SANDAG Criminal Justice Research director Cynthia Burke said.

    Since recreational marijuana was legal in Calfornia in 2017, more youths said it was easier to obtain than 10 years ago when the report was first published. More of them also feel the drug was "not bad for the users at all," according to the report.

    “It is telling that many of the minors interviewed expressed that they believed marijuana was not bad for users and considered marijuana less harmful and more easily available than alcohol and tobacco,” Burke said. 

    The report also found that more youths in 2017 reported trying meth and abusing prescription drugs, compared to 2007.