A news article that went national last week sensationally spun the results of a drug-use survey to imply that Washington State students may be smoking more pot due to the state's new legalization law. But it turns out that pot use isn't up. It's steady, even down a little bit.
The Healthy Youth Survey, released last Thursday by state officials, is a biennial trove of data used as the gold standard for gauging risky behavior by students, including smoking, drinking, and using drugs. An Associated Press story blared that pot is twice as popular as cigarettes, while adding that "the number of high school students who believe using marijuana is risky is also at a low point." It went on to quote Washington health secretary Mary Selecky, who said, "As the perception of harm goes down, use goes up." As a result, the article explained, officials "expressed concern that marijuana prevention efforts aren't ready to ramp up in response to the new state law."
In other words: Pot is really popular, kids think it's less harmful, and that leads to higher pot use.
So I pressed state officials for data on pot use among 10th graders—the same grade used to compare pot and tobacco consumption—because the article never cited those figures.