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March 12, 2004

How Youths Obtain Marijuana


T
he National Survey on Drug Use and asked past year marijuana users to report how
Health (NSDUH), formerly known as they obtained marijuana the last time they used
the National Household Survey on it, from whom they obtained it, and where they
Drug Abuse (NHSDA), asked respondents to were when they obtained it.1,2,3 This report
report their use of marijuana during the year focuses on youths aged 12 to 17, and responses
prior to the interview. The 2002 survey also were analyzed by gender and racial/ethnic
groups for comparative purposes.4
In Brief
Prevalence of Marijuana Use among
Youths
z According to the 2002 NSDUH,
almost 4 million youths aged According to the 2002 NSDUH, almost 4
million youths aged 12 to 17 (16 percent of
12 to 17 (16 percent) had used
youths of this age) had used marijuana at least
marijuana at least once in the once in the past year (Table 1). The rate of past
past year year marijuana use was similar among male and
female youths. White youths were more likely
z In 2002, over 60 percent of than Hispanic or black youths to have used
youths aged 12 to 17 who had marijuana in the past year.
used marijuana in the past
year obtained their most Method of Obtaining Marijuana
recently used marijuana for In 2002, over 60 percent of past year marijuana
free or shared someone else’s users aged 12 to 17 obtained their most recently
marijuana used marijuana for free or shared someone else’s
marijuana, and about one-third of youths had
z The majority of past year purchased their most recently used marijuana
marijuana users aged 12 to 17 (Figure 1). Female youths (72 percent) were
more likely than male youths (52 percent) to
obtained their most recently have obtained their most recently used marijuana
used marijuana from a friend for free or shared it. On the other hand, male
youths (41 percent) were more likely than female

The NSDUH Report (formerly 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 or other reports from the Office of Applied Studies are available on-line:
http://www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov. Citation of the source is appreciated.
NSDUH REPORT: HOWYOUTHS OBTAIN MARIJUANA March 12, 2004

Table 1. Percentages of Youths Aged 12 to 17 Figure 1. Percentages of Past Year Marijuana Users
Reporting Past Year Marijuana Use, by Demographic Aged 12 to 17 Reporting Method of Obtaining Their
Characteristics: 2002 Most Recently Used Marijuana: 2002

70%
Past Year Marijuana Use 61.4
Characteristic Percent Standard Error 60%

Total 15.8 0.32 50%

Gender
40%
Male 16.3 0.43 31.9
Female 15.2 0.44 30%
Race/Ethnicity
20%
White 17.6 0.40
Black 12.0 0.74 10% 4.3
Hispanic 14.1 0.91 0.7 1.6
0%
Got It for Bought It Grew It Traded Method
Free or for It Unspecified
Shared

youths (22 percent) to have bought than males (76 percent) to have pur-
their most recently used marijuana. chased it from a friend. Males who Where Most Recently Used
There were no differences between bought marijuana were more likely Marijuana Was Obtained
whites, blacks, and Hispanics in the than females who bought marijuana
Regardless of how youths obtained
method of obtaining marijuana. to have obtained it from someone
their last marijuana, the most com-
they had just met or did not know
mon place where they obtained it
well (19 vs. 10 percent). There were
Source of Most Recently was inside a home, apartment, or
no gender differences regarding the
Used Marijuana dorm. Youths who received mari-
source of obtaining marijuana
juana for free or shared it were
among youths who received their
The majority of past year marijuana more likely than youths who bought
most recently used marijuana for
users aged 12 to 17 obtained their marijuana to have obtained it inside
free or shared it.
most recently used marijuana from a a home, apartment, or dorm (48 vs.
Black youths were less likely than
friend, regardless of whether they 35 percent) (Figure 3). Youths who
white or Hispanic youths to have
bought it or obtained it for free or bought marijuana were more likely
obtained marijuana from a friend,
shared it (Figure 2). Moreover, than youths who received it for free
regardless of whether they bought it
when compared to those youths who or shared it to have obtained it in a
or obtained it for free or shared it.
obtained marijuana for free or public building, outside in a public
Among youths who bought mari-
shared it, youths who bought their area, inside a school building, or
juana, blacks (32 percent) were more
most recently used marijuana were outside on school property.
likely than whites (15 percent) and
more likely to have obtained it from There were no gender differ-
Hispanics (10 percent) to have pur-
someone they had just met or did ences regarding where marijuana
chased it from someone they had
not know well. Youths who ob- was purchased among youths who
just met or did not know well.
tained marijuana for free or shared bought it. However, among youths
Among youths who obtained mari-
it were more likely than youths who who obtained marijuana for free or
juana for free or shared it, blacks (18
bought marijuana to have obtained shared it, males were less likely than
percent) were more likely than
it from a relative or family member. females to have obtained it inside a
whites (9 percent) or Hispanics (7
Among youths who bought their home, apartment, or dorm (43 vs.
percent) to have obtained it from a
most recently used marijuana, fe- 52 percent); and females were less
relative or family member.
males (84 percent) were more likely likely than males to have received it
March 12, 2004 NSDUH REPORT: HOW YOUTHS OBTAIN MARIJUANA

Figure 2. Percentages of Past Year Marijuana


Figure 3. Percentages of Past Year Marijuana Users
Users Aged 12 to 17 Reporting Source of Their
Aged 12 to 17 Reporting Location of Their Most
Most Recently Used Marijuana by Method Obtained:
Recently Used Marijuana, by Method Obtained: 2002
2002

0% 20% 40% 60%


100% Free or Shared It*
83.2 Bought It Inside Home, 48.0
78.7
80% Apartment, or Dorm 34.7
24.3
Some Other Place
60% 18.7
3.0
Inside School Building
40% 8.6
Outside School 2.5
20% 15.9 on Property 4.8
10.1
5.5 19.1
2.2 1.3 3.2 Outside in a Public Area
24.5
0%
Friend Relative or Someone Source 1.4
Inside Public Building
Family They Just Unspecified 5.3 Free or
Met or Did Shared It*
1.5
Not Know Location Unspecified Bought It
3.3
Well

in some other place (22 vs. 28 per- 2. Response options for source of marijuana that 4. American Indian or Alaska Native, Native
was most recently used were (1) a friend, (2) a Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and Asian
cent). relative or family member, and (3) someone I youths were excluded from these analyses on
Among past year marijuana us- had just met or didn’t know well. Those who obtaining marijuana due to the small sample
ers aged 12 to 17, blacks were more answered “don’t know” were considered to be sizes for these racial/ethnic groups.
“source unspecified.”
likely than whites to have obtained
3. Response options for where the most recently
marijuana outside in a public area used marijuana was obtained were (1) inside a Table and Figure Notes
and less likely than whites or His- public building; (2) inside a school building; (3)
Source (table and all figures): SAMHSA 2002
panics to have received it inside a outside on school property; (4) inside a home,
NSDUH.
apartment, or dorm; (5) outside in a public
home, apartment, or dorm, regard- area; and (6) some other place. Respondents *Youths who had not bought or traded for
less of whether the marijuana was were also classified as “location unspecified.” marijuana in the past year and who obtained
their most recently used marijuana for free.
purchased (data not shown).
Almost 14 percent of youths who
bought marijuana did so on school
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health Information and data for this issue are based on
property (9 percent inside a school (NSDUH) is an annual survey sponsored by the the following publication and statistics:
and 5 percent outside on school Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Office of Applied Studies. (2003). Results from
property). Among youths who Administration (SAMHSA). Prior to 2002, this
the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
survey was called the National Household
bought their most recently used National findings (DHHS Publication No. SMA 03-
Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). The 2002 data
3836, NHSDA Series H-22). Rockville, MD:
marijuana, white youths (9 percent) are based on information obtained from 68,216
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
persons aged 12 or older, including 23,645
were more likely than black youths (4 Administration.
youths aged 12 to 17. The survey collects data
percent) to have purchased it inside by administering questionnaires to a Also available on-line:
a school building. representative sample of the population through http://www.DrugAbuseStatistics.samhsa.gov.
face-to-face interviews at their place of Because of improvements and modifications to
esidence. the 2002 NSDUH, 2002 estimates should not be
The NSDUH Report is prepared by the Office of compared with estimates from the 2001 or earlier
End Notes Applied Studies (OAS), SAMHSA, and by RTI versions of the survey to examine changes over
International in Research Triangle Park, North time.
1. Respondents were asked how they obtained Carolina (RTI International is a trade name of
their marijuana the last time they used it. Research Triangle Institute).
Response options were (1) you bought it, (2)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
you traded something else for it, (3) you got it Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
for free or shared someone else’s, and (4) you Office of Applied Studies
grew it yourself. Respondents also were www.samhsa.gov
classified as “method unspecified.”