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August 31, 2001

Obtaining T
he 1999 National Household
Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA)
included questions related to risk
Marijuana factors associated with marijuana use
among youths aged 12 to 17 (i.e., factors

Easy for Youths that may increase the likelihood of
marijuana use). Youths were asked (1) how
easy or hard it would be for them to obtain
marijuana if they wanted some, (2) whether
In Brief
they agreed that a lot of drug selling
occurred in their neighborhoods,
● In 1999, 57 percent of youths (3) whether they had been approached by
aged 12 to 17 agreed that someone selling drugs in the month before
obtaining marijuana would be the survey (i.e., in the past month),
easy (4) whether their friends used marijuana,
and (5) whether adults they knew used
● Nearly 25 percent of youths marijuana. The survey also enabled an
agreed that a lot of drug selling examination of the relationship between
occurs in their neighborhoods; marijuana use and exposure to these five
one in six had been risk factors.
approached by someone
selling drugs in the month Risk Factors Associated with
before the survey Marijuana Use
According to the 1999 NHSDA, more than
● More than 25 percent of youths half of youths aged 12 to 17 (i.e., 12.7
who had been approached by million nationwide) reported that
someone selling drugs in the marijuana would be fairly or very easy to
month before the survey had obtain if they wanted some (Figure 1).
used marijuana in the past Approximately one in four youths (5.5
month million) either strongly agreed or somewhat
agreed that a lot of drug selling went on in

The NHSDA Report is published periodically by the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMHSA). All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA.
Additional copies of this report may be downloaded from http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/facts.cfm. Citation of the source is appreciated. Other reports
from the Office of Applied Studies are also available on-line: http://www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov/.
NHSDA REPORT: OBTAINING MARIJUANA EASY FOR YOUTHS August 31, 2001

their neighborhoods, and almost
one in six youths (3.6 million) had Figure 1. Percentage of Youths Aged 12 to 17 Reporting
been approached by someone Exposure to Risk Factors Associated with Marijuana Use: 1999
selling drugs in the month before
the survey.
80
An estimated 42 percent of
youths (9.5 million) reported that

Percent Reporting Exposure
a few, most, or all of their friends 56.5
60
used marijuana (Figure 1).

to Risk Factors
Approximately 29 percent of 42.0
youths (6.5 million) reported that 40
a few, most, or all of the adults 28.8
they knew used marijuana. 24.8
Approximately 12 percent (2.7 20 15.6
million) reported that most or all
of their friends used marijuana,
and approximately 4 percent 0
(860,000) reported that most or Marijuana A Lot of Drug Been Had Friends Knew Adults
Fairly/Very Selling in Approached Who Used Who Used
every adult they knew used Easy to Their by Drug Seller Marijuana Marijuana
marijuana. Obtain Neighborhood in Past Month

Racial/Ethnic
Differences in Risk
Factors report being exposed to each of percent), youths who reported
these five risk factors. that a few, some, or all of their
Among youths aged 12 to 17,
friends used marijuana were
there was little variation in the
more than 30 times as likely to
percentage of whites, blacks, and
Hispanics reporting that
Marijuana Use Among have used marijuana in the past
Youths at Risk month (17 percent). Youths were
marijuana would be fairly or very
also 9 times more likely to have
easy to obtain if they wanted Overall, approximately 7 percent used marijuana in the past
some (Figure 2). Compared with of youths aged 12 to 17 reported month if they knew any adults
those in other racial/ethnic using marijuana in the month who used marijuana compared
groups, blacks and Hispanics before the survey. Past month with youths who did not know
were more likely to agree that a marijuana use was higher among any adult marijuana users.
lot of drug selling went on in youths who had been exposed to
their neighborhoods, and risk factors associated with
Hispanics were more likely to marijuana use than among
have been approached by
Summary
youths who had not been
someone selling drugs in the exposed to these factors (Figure In 1999, more than half of youths
month before the survey. 3). More than one in four youths aged 12 to 17 reported that they
Hispanics were also more likely who had been approached by could obtain marijuana fairly or
to report that a few, some, or all someone selling drugs in the very easily if they wanted it.
of their friends used marijuana, month before the survey had Marijuana was available from a
and blacks were more likely to used marijuana in the past variety of sources. One in four
report that they knew at least a month. Compared with youths youths agreed that there was a lot
few adults who used marijuana. who reported that none of their of drug selling in their
Asians were the least likely to friends used marijuana (0.5 neighborhood, and almost one in
August 31, 2001 NHSDA REPORT: OBTAINING MARIJUANA EASY FOR YOUTHS

six had been approached by
Figure 2. Percentage of Youths Aged 12 to 17 Reporting
someone selling drugs in the Exposure to Risk Factors Associated with Marijuana Use, By
month before the survey. Almost Racial/Ethnic Group: 1999
half of youths had friends who
used marijuana, and more than 80
one in four knew adults who used

Percent Reporting Exposure
marijuana. Blacks and Hispanics

57.4
57.5

54.5
were more likely than youths of 60

45.9
to Risk Factors

44.4

42.4
other racial/ethnic groups to

41.5
41.8

39.4
report exposure to several risk

32.6
40

29.3

29.6
27.0
factors associated with marijuana

20.4

19.3
17.9
use. The rate of past month

16.2

16.1
14.8

10.7
20
marijuana use was significantly
higher among youths who
reported exposure to these risk 0
factors than among those who Marijuana A Lot of Drug Been Had Friends Knew Adults
were not exposed to these factors. Fairly/Very Selling in Approached Who Used Who Used
Easy to Their by Drug Seller Marijuana Marijuana
Obtain Neighborhood in Past Month
Figure Notes
Whites Blacks Asians Hispanics
*Data presented may differ from previously
published data from the 1999 NHSDA because
of corrections made to imputation procedures.
Source (all figures): SAMHSA 1999 NHSDA.

The National Household Survey on Drug Figure 3. Percentage of Youths Aged 12 to 17 Reporting Past
Abuse (NHSDA) is an annual survey
sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Month Marijuana Use, by Exposure to Risk Factors Associated
Mental Health Services Administration with Marijuana Use: 1999*
(SAMHSA). The 1999 data are based on
information obtained from nearly 70,000
persons aged 12 or older. The survey collects 40
data by administering questionnaires to a
Percent Reporting Exposure

representative sample of the population
through face-to-face interviews at their place of
residence. 30 27.5
to Risk Factors

The NHSDA Report is prepared by the Office
of Applied Studies (OAS), SAMHSA, and by 19.6
RTI in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. 20 16.6
Information and data for this issue are based 13.5
on the following publication and statistics: 12.1
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 10
Administration. (2000) Summary of findings 5.2
3.4 2.2
from the 1999 National Household Survey on 1.2
Drug Abuse (DHHS Publication No. SMA 00-
0.5
3466). Rockville, MD: Author. 0
Marijuana A Lot of Drug Been Had Friends Knew Adults
Also available on-line:
http://www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov Fairly/Very Selling in Approached Who Used Who Used
Easy to Their by Drug Seller Marijuana Marijuana
Additional tables 3.13A, 3.13B, 3.18A, 3.18B,
Obtain Neighborhood in Past Month
3.21A, 3.21B from http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/
nhsda/2kdetailedtabs/Vol_1_Part_3/V1P3.htm.
Agreed Did Not Agree
Additional table 1.2B from http://
www.samhsa.gov/oas/nhsda/2kdetailedtabs/
Vol_1_Part_1/V1P1.htm.
Additional tables available upon request.