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SANDAG: Drug Use In Juvenile Offenders Highest In 19 Years

A marijuana plant is shown in this undated photo.
Katie Schoolov
A marijuana plant is shown in this undated photo.
Drug use among youth booked into Juvenile Hall reached its highest rate since 2000, with 58% of those interviewed testing positive for an illicit substance last year, according to a report released last week by the San Diego Association of Governments.

Drug use among youth booked into Juvenile Hall reached its highest rate since 2000, with 58% of those interviewed testing positive for an illicit substance last year, according to a report released last week by the San Diego Association of Governments.

Fifty-five percent of 109 juveniles interviewed for the report tested positive for marijuana, also the highest rate since 2000, according to SANDAG data.

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Ninety percent of individuals interviewed from detention facilities in 2018 reported trying marijuana, compared to 88% for alcohol and 71% for tobacco, according to the report. Overall, 96% of juveniles reported trying some kind of substance.

Forty-five percent of respondents also said marijuana was the first substance they had tried, compared to 43% for alcohol.

Overall, those who had used marijuana, alcohol and tobacco reported getting started at or before age 13, on average.

When asked to rank how harmful they thought specific drugs were on a four-point scale, 11 percent of respondents said marijuana was “very bad” or “extremely bad.”

Thirty-three and 60% of youths interviewed thought the same for alcohol and tobacco, respectively.

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Among other findings:

— 91% of those interviewed said it was easy, or very easy, to obtain marijuana and 87 percent of those interviewed said the same about alcohol.

— 57% abused prescription or over-the-counter drugs last year, with 83% of those reporting that they had used tranquilizers, such as Xanax, and 56% saying they had tried codeine;

— 10% of interviewees tested positive for methamphetamine, down from 11% in 2017.

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