August 24, 2022

Dear Supporter,

There are any number of ways for kids to access, use, and conceal THC products. Results from the 2021 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) shed light on the current status of use by our kids and the opportunity for adults that care about kids to positively influence youth.

Please use this information as a starting point for further learning and thoughtful discussions with your family and friends. Please share widely with those that care about kids!


Why it matters:

Information is power. Several indicators of youth substance use (marijuana as well as alcohol and tobacco) improved from the 2019 survey, to the most recent survey. This may be one upside to the pandemic. While lockdowns and remote learning significantly disrupted the social and home life for all of us; this may have led to more parental awareness, discussions, monitoring and involvement by parents.  

Hopefully these numbers continue on their current trajectory. 

2021 HKCS Key Takeaways - High School Student - Marijuana Use

  1. 13.3% of youth used marijuana within the past month  - decrease from 20.6% in 2019
  2. 40.3% of youth feel it would be easy to get marijuana if they wanted - decrease from 51.4%
  3. 60.4% of youth think regular marijuana use is risky - increase from 50.1% in 2019

More good news is that the percentage of high school students who think parents, guardians and adults in their neighborhood would feel using is wrong or very wrong increased for tobacco, alcohol and marijuana.


What you need to know: 

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is given bi-annually to students across the state of Colorado. The 2021 survey included 106,799 middle and high school students.

CDPHE acknowledges results from the 2021 survey should not be directly compared to previous years because of Covid-19. Students in most cases were unable to socialize as they had in the past at school, during activities and even with their close circle of friends and family.

A few of our biggest takeaways:

1) There is a misperception by kids that most of their peers use marijuana.

2) Early experimentation and initiation is concerning. 

3) Use of high potency concentrates is increasing.

4) Kids are driving while high.

5) Kids are getting marijuana from dispensaries and adults.


Research shows that kids think their friends use marijuana more than they actually do. Educating  that actual peer use rates are lower than the perception may be one of the greatest opportunities to slow the desire to experiment with marijuana.

  • 16.7% of middle school students think half of their class used marijuana in the last 30 days.           In fact, only:   3.0% responded that they used in the last 30 days.
  • 39.5% of high school students think half of their class used marijuana in the last 30 days.               In fact, only:  13.3% responded that they used in the last 30 days.


The earlier youth use begins, the more likely negative impacts such as declining IQ, lower school performance and developing a dependence, can translate into reduced life satisfaction down the road. Students of all ages need to be given accurate information on the adverse consequences of using marijuana so that they can make an informed decision.

Our kids are grateful to receive valid information.

From a youth presentation this summer, we received letters with these comments from students:

"A lot of my friends are affected by marijuana and I think it’s really important to learn more about its adverse effects" - Vanessa


"It truly is shocking to see how weed has affected my school personally.  That is why it is so important to have people like you in our state" - Kenia


"There are quite a few people in my life who smoke, vape, etc…I would love to share this information with them" - El

"This topic is so relevant in our society today and it needs to be taught all around" - Lauren


"I hope that educating teens becomes more widespread because I worry for my friends" - Elizabeth


"I was glad you did not seem to simplify or dumb down the issue" - JP

Dabbing concentrates can have potency exceeding 80% THC. The higher the THC concentration the more likely the adolescent will develop a marijuana use disorder, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) or THC-induced psychosis.  

  • 49.2% of High School marijuana users dabbed at least once in the last 30 days.  
  • 39.5% of Middle School marijuana users dabbed at least once in the last 30 days. 


Marijuana, like alcohol, impairs the ability to drive. Coordination, perception, reaction time, and decision making are all impacted by marijuana use and create a potentially dangerous driving experience for everyone in the vehicle. Driving impairment to any degree after drug or alcohol use may result in a DUI or DWAI.

  • 12.5% of high school students rode in a vehicle one or more times in the past 30 days with someone who had been using marijuana. 
  • 5.5% of students who drove in the last 30 days, say they drove while using marijuana.


One of the arguments for legalized marijuana is to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids. Education for adults and the marijuana industry on the adverse effects of marijuana use for kids should be enhanced and promoted. Compliance checks by the state must be increased to insure dispensaries are not allowing underage purchases.

The Marijuana Enforcement Division conducted only 80 underage sales check investigations in 2021 out of more than 1,000 stores. Not surprising, in 2021 there was a statistically significant increase from 2017 in the number of high school students purchasing marijuana from licensed stores. 

  • 21.1% of high school marijuana users report someone over the age of 21 gave it to them.
  • 4.9% of high school marijuana users report they purchased from a marijuana dispensary.


What you can do:

Talk to the kids in your life  -PARENTS OPINION COUNTS

  • Youth who know their parents think underage use is wrong are 72% LESS likely to use.
  • Youth who have an adult to go to for help with a problem are 30% LESS likely to use.
  • Youth who think their teachers notice they are doing a good job are 28% LESS likely to use.

Identify transition periods in a child's life including school or family changes.  While some of these changes seem simple to an adult, to a child they can be traumatic and open the door to experimentation with marijuana and other drugs including alcohol and nicotine.

Ask your school if they are equipped with current information on high potency THC products, methods of intake, possible adverse consequences and warning signs. Check out THC for current updates of today’s available products in states where THC is commercially available.  

Encourage your child's school to become a Marijuana Free Zone


A new school year is rolling in quickly, which will hopefully be back to normal both academically  and socially.  It is more important than ever to inform others about the dangers of high THC marijuana products so that we can continue to protect kids. Please visit our website if you would like more information and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.  

Thank you for your care and support in better protecting our kids. 

The One Chance Team



Additional Resources

"Growing Risks and Impacts" You tube

Preventing Marijuana Use Among Youth - SAMHSA

Colorado Cannabis - Talking about marijuana 

Shareable resources | Colorado Cannabis


Tips for parents

One Chance to Grow Up protects kids from today’s marijuana through transparency, education, empowerment and policy.  We don’t take sides on the politics of legalization for adults but instead serve as a reliable resource for parents, media, policymakers, and all those who care about kids. 

Started by concerned parents and supported entirely by charitable contributions, One Chance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center.


One Chance to Grow Up
789 Sherman Street Suite 250 | Denver, Colorado 80203

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