Cannabis Use and Cannabis Use Disorders Among Youth in the United States, 2002–2014

Objective: To examine trends in past-year cannabis use (CU) and cannabis use disorders (CUD) among youth in the United States, when related changes began, and factors associated with these changes.

Methods: This study used data from 288,300 persons aged 12–17 years who participated in the 2002–2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Descriptive analyses and bivariable and multivariable logistic regressions were applied (using the year 2002 as the reference group for most analyses).

Results: The prevalence of past-year CU among youth decreased from 15.8% in 2002 to 13.1% in 2014 (this downward trend occurred during 2002–2007 only [β = 0.0540, P < .0001]). Among youth cannabis users, the prevalence of past-year CUD decreased from 27.0% in 2002 to 20.4% in 2014, with a downward trend starting in 2011 (β = 0.0970, P = .0001). During 2002–2014, the prevalence of past-year tobacco use and alcohol use decreased and prevalences of past-year CU increased among tobacco users and among alcohol users. Our multivariable results suggest that declines in past-year tobacco use (but not alcohol use) among youth were associated with declines in past-year CU during 2010–2014. Past-year CU and CUD were higher among racial/ethnic minorities (except for non-Hispanic Asians and Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders for CU) than non-Hispanic whites and were similar between male and female youth during 2002–2014.

Conclusions: In the United States, compared to 2002, even after adjusting for covariates, CU decreased among youth during 2005–2014, and CUD declined among youth cannabis users during 2013–2014. Associations between declines in tobacco use and decreased CU suggest the importance of tobacco use control and prevention among youth.

J Clin Psychiatry 2017;78(9):1404–1413

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.16m10948