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SANDAG Report Finds an Increase in THC Vaping Among Local Arrestees

Findings also Reveal an Increase in Perceived Marijuana Potency over Time

November 1, 2019-- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vaping continues to increase in San Diego County, according to a new report released by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division on Friday. Among the justice-involved surveyed in 2018, 70% of juveniles and 61% of adults reported ever vaping THC, up from 66% and 53% the previous year.

The new SANDAG report, Marijuana Use Among San Diego Arrestees: Two Years of Data Post–Proposition 64 found that in 2018, 71% of adults and 53% of juveniles felt the potency of marijuana had increased since they started using, up from 63% and 39% respectively in 2017.

The study also found that while there were no reports of marijuana-related visits to the emergency room (ER) in 2016, in 2017, three of those surveyed admitted they visited the ER for marijuana-related issues. In 2018, those numbers more than doubled, with eight reports.
Other notable findings include:
• About two-thirds (66%) of adults and 57% of juveniles surveyed said they were more likely to use marijuana after legalization
• Only 31% overall think marijuana is physically addicting, however 61% think it is psychologically addicting
• More than half (56%) of adults think marijuana can impact the ability to drive, and of this group, 51% reported they had driven under the influence; of the 44% who thought it did not affect one’s ability to drive, 63% had driven under the influence
• Almost half (45%) of adults reported obtaining marijuana multiple ways in the past year, including at recreational dispensaries (89%) and on the street (77%).
“While it is important to note these numbers are from interviews with justice-involved individuals, it still highlights some important trends we have been monitoring since Proposition 64 legalized marijuana for recreational use for users 21 years or older, which include stronger potency, increased risk for overdosing, and the possibility of more individuals driving under the influence,” said SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Director Dr. Cynthia Burke.
This report is one in a series highlighting findings from data collected as part of the San Diego County Substance Abuse Monitoring program. Since 2004, when federal funding for the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program was suspended, San Diego has been the only county to continue this project uninterrupted. With funding from the SANDAG Criminal Justice Clearinghouse, these data have been reported annually to provide useful information to policy makers, as well as law enforcement, prevention, and treatment professionals regarding drug use trends and involvement in other risky or illegal behavior over time.
Since the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California for individuals 21 years of age and older, a marijuana addendum was added to the Substance Abuse Monitoring (SAM) questionnaire.

Read the 3-page summary, SANDAG CJ Flash: Marijuana Use Among San Diego Arrestees: Two Years of Data Post–Proposition 64.


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