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YOUTH CANNABIS PREVENTION INITIATIVE

California Youth Cannabis Use, 2013–2019


Below is a snapshot of statewide youth cannabis use between 2013–2019. Middle school and high school student cannabis use estimates are presented separately below because cannabis use estimates vary greatly between these groups.

How to use: 

To view the data, make selections for each drop-down menu: Colorblind, Demographics, and Use Frequency. 
  • Colorblind: Selecting “yes” to the colorblind filter will change the color palette of the graphs to ensure ease of viewing. 
  • Demographics: The data can be viewed by demographics including grade, mental health status, use on school property, parents’/guardians’ educational attainment, race and ethnicity, and sex.  
    • For mental health status, chronic sadness was defined as feeling sad or hopeless every day for the past 12 months. Suicidal ideation was defined as seriously considering attempting suicide in the past 12 months.
    • Parents’/Guardians’ educational attainment is often used as a measure for socioeconomic status. Students were asked the highest level of education their parents or guardians completed.
  • Use Frequency: The data can be viewed by frequency of cannabis use by selecting either current cannabis use or heavy cannabis use. Current cannabis use is defined as using cannabis within the past 30 days; and heavy cannabis use is defined as using cannabis 20 days or more within the past 30 days. 
Download the California Youth Cannabis Use Dashboard Data.​​

Data Highlights:

Between 2013–2015 and 2015–2017, there was a statistically significant decrease in current and heavy cannabis use among high school and middle school students. This decrease in cannabis use held consistent for most of the demographic groups. Below are highlights on youth cannabis use from the 2017–2019 California Healthy Kids survey (CHKS). 

High School Student Cannabis Use, 2017–2019

Overall, 12.81% of high school students reported current cannabis use and 2.96% reported heavy cannabis use.
  • Mental Health: High school students who reported chronic sadness and/or suicidal ideation had higher current (19.71% and 24.59%, respectively) and heavy cannabis use (4.66% and 5.97%, respectively) as compared to the general population of California high school students. 
  • Race and Ethnicity: 
    • American Indian or Alaska Native (14.91%), White (14.22%), and students who identified with Two or More Races (14.33%) had higher current cannabis use as compared to students from other races and ethnicities. 
    • American Indian or Alaska Native (4.57%), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (4.16%), and students who identified with Two or More Races (3.96%) had higher heavy cannabis use as compared to other racial and ethnic groups. 
  • Parents’ or Guardians’ Educational Attainment: 
    • Students who reported that their parents or guardians had completed some high school had higher current and heavy cannabis use (16.03%; 4.13%, respectively) as compared to students who reported that their parents or guardians graduated from college (10.52%; 2.13%, respectively).

Middle School Student Cannabis Use, 2017–2019

Overall, 3.62% of middle school students reported current cannabis use and 0.45% were heavy cannabis users.
  • Mental Health: Middle school students who reported chronic sadness had higher current (7.03%) and heavy cannabis use (0.79%) as compared to the general population of California middle school students. 
  • Race and Ethnicity: 
    • Black or African American (5.09%), Hispanic or Latino (4.45%) and students who identify as Two or More Races (4.14%) have higher current cannabis use as compared to White (2.27%) middle school students who have relatively lower cannabis use. 
  • Parents’ or Guardians’ Educational Attainment: 
    • Students who reported that their parents or guardians had completed some high school had higher current cannabis use (7.40%) as compared to students who reported that their parents or guardians graduated from college (2.62%).

How does California youth cannabis use compare to national estimates?

Data from 2017–2019 CHKS indicates that California youth have lower cannabis use than national averages. 

Table: Cannabis Use in the Past 30 Days

​Grade
​U.S.
​Grade
​CA-Statewide
​8th
​5.5%–6.6%
​7th
​3.6%
​10th
​16.7%–18.4%
​9th
​9.7%
​12th
​22.3%–22.9%
​11th
​16.1%

Note: National estimates are presented as a range from the 2017-2019 Monitoring the Future Study data. 

Data Source:

Youth cannabis use data is obtained from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS), which is managed by the California Department of Education. CHKS is a randomly selected state representative sample of schools surveyed over a two-year period. 

Suggested Citation for the Dashboard: California Department of Public Health, Substance and Addiction Prevention Branch. California Youth Cannabis Use Dashboard [online]. 2022. [accessed date]. URL : https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/sapb/cannabis/Pages/California-Youth-Cannabis-Use-Dashboard.aspx

For questions, please contact us at cannabis@cdph.ca.gov.  ​​​
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