Colorado became the first in the nation in 2012 to make the recreational use of marijuana legal. In the following year when recreational marijuana sales got underway, Colorado’s General Assembly mandated the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to produce a report every two years by Jan. 31 on the health effects of marijuana use and trends in marijuana use among Coloradans.

The 2022 summary and report were released this week and delivered to the General Assembly, the Colorado Department of Revenue, and the state Board of Health. The decade of recreational marijuana use by the Mile High states shows a few positive trends.

-13.3 percent of youth used marijuana within the past month- a decrease from 20.6 percent in 2019

-60.4 percent of youth think regular marijuana use is risky – an increase from 50.1 percent in 2019

-Students driving after using marijuana decreased from 11.2 percent in 2019 to 5.5 percent in 2021

-6.8 percent of new mothers reported using marijuana during pregnancy, a decrease from 8.2 percent in 2019, and is less prevalent that alcohol and e-cigarette use

But not all trends are positive. CDPHE reports Substantial Evidence on the Health Effects of Marijuana Use/Consumption on Adolescents and Young Adults including some of these findings:

Daily or near-daily marijuana use by adolescents and young adults is strongly associated with developing a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia in adulthood. These symptoms are worse with higher doses

Marijuana use by adolescents and young adults is strongly associated with developing psychotic symptoms in adulthood, such as hallucinations, paranoia, and delusional beliefs. The risk is higher with more frequent use and among those who start using marijuana at a younger age.

Daily or near-daily marijuana users can experience withdrawal symptoms when abstaining.

Marijuana users can become “addicted” to marijuana.

Weekly or more frequent marijuana use by adolescents is strongly associated with failure to graduate from high school.

CDPHE”s statements of Substantial Evidence on the Health Effects of Marijuana Use/Consumption on Driving include:

Driving soon after using marijuana increases the risk of a motor vehicle crash.

Using alcohol and marijuana together increases impairment and the risk of a motor vehicle crash more than using either substance alone.

The typical marijuana cigarette or joint in Colorado contains approximately 0.5 grams of marijuana, and the THC content in marijuana ranges from 12 to 23 percent THC; therefore, a typical joint contains between 60-115 mg of THC. For less-than-weekly marijuana users, smoking marijuana containing 10 mg or more of THC is likely to cause impairment that affects one’s ability to drive, bike, or perform other safety-sensitive activities.

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