DefinitionPercentage of adults 18 years of age and older who responded 1 or more days on the [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/brfss/default.aspx Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)] to the question: "During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use marijuana or hashish?"
NumeratorWeighted number of adults (18+) who responded 1 or more days on the BRFSS to the question: "During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use marijuana or hashish?"
DenominatorWeighted number of adults (18+) with complete and valid responses on the BRFSS to the question: "During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use marijuana or hashish?" excluding those with missing, "Don't know/Not sure," or "Refused" responses.
Data Interpretation IssuesThe introduction to the Marijuana section on the BRFSS states: "The next questions are about recent use of marijuana. Your answers are strictly private and confidential and will only be used to help improve health services."
The current use of marijuana question was asked as a state-added question on the standard and supplemental BRFSS surveys in 2015.
Why Is This Important?Long-term, regular marijuana use starting in the young adult years may impair brain development and functioning. The main chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which, when smoked, quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which then carries it to organs throughout the body, including the brain. THC disrupts the brain's normal functioning and can lead to problems studying, learning new things, and recalling recent events.^1^ Frequent marijuana use has also been linked to increased risk of psychosis in individuals with specific pre-existing genetic vulnerabilities.^2,3^ Marijuana use--particularly long-term, chronic use or use starting at a young age--can also lead to dependence and addiction. These effects highlight the importance of prevention. [[br]][[br]]
1. Crean RD, Crane NA, Mason BJ. An evidence based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions. Journal of Addiction Medicine 2011;5(1):1-15.
2. Di Forti M, Iyegbe C, Sallis H, Kolliakou A, et al. Confirmation that the AKT1 (rs2494732) genotype influences the risk of psychosis in cannabis users. Biological Psychiatry 2012;72(10):811-816.
3. Caspi A, Moffitt TE, Cannon M, et al. Moderation of the effect of adolescent-onset cannabis use on adult psychosis by a functional polymorphism in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene: longitudinal evidence of a gene X environment interaction. Biological Psychiatry 2005;57(10):1117-1127.
Healthy People Objective: Reduce the proportion of adults reporting use of any illicit drug during the past 30 daysU.S. Target: 7.1 percent
How Are We Doing?The percentage of Alaskan adults who reported marijuana use in the past 30 days was 18.9% for all Alaskans and 22.2% for Alaska Native people in 2017. Males were more likely to use (22.7%) than were females (14.9%) in 2017.
Smoking marijuana was the most commonly reported primary method of consumption among all Alaskans (85.6%) and Alaska Native people (88.7%).
The prevalence of current marijuana use declined as age, education, or income increased. Married or widowed adults reported lower prevalence rates of current marijuana usage than those who were divorced/separated, never married, or living with a partner. Adults who were either unemployed (29.0%) or unable to work (35.8%) reported significantly higher prevalence of current marijuana usage than either those employed (19.0%) or not in the workforce (11.7%). Adults who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual reported higher prevalence of current marijuana usage at 33.6% compared to 15.9% among those who identify as heterosexual. The prevalence of current marijuana use increased with poorer assessments of general health status or the number of domains of Adverse Childhood Exposures.
Adult marijuana use prevalence rates from the BRFSS are initially presented for all Alaskans and Alaska Native people for 2015-2017. This is followed by the prevalence of current medical marijuana usage. Methods of marijuana usage are then reported.
Subsequent analyses by demographic subpopulations (i.e., sex, age, race/ethnicity, ethnicity, marital status, education, employment status, income, and poverty status) are presented for 2015-2017.
Crosstabulations were also conducted by body mass index, sexual orientation, disability, general health status, and number of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Significant differences occurred within each comparison.
Adult marijuana use prevalence rates are presented for 2015-2017 recent time period allowing reporting for all Alaskans and Alaska Native people: 1) the 7 Alaska Public Health Regions, 2) 5 Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas and rural remainder, and 3) 11 behavioral health systems regions based upon aggregations of 20,000 population.
What Is Being Done?Marijuana affects everyone differently based on personal characteristics like body type and history of use. It's important to recognize your limits. THC levels can be much higher in today's marijuana products, and the effects of marijuana can be significantly delayed, particularly with edibles. Also, driving while impaired is illegal, regardless of the substance you are using. If you are not sure whether you are impaired, do not drive.
Marijuana may be harmful to developing brains, so do not use marijuana if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Smoking marijuana or consuming edible cannabis products can expose your baby to potentially harmful substances. If you have young children or teenagers at home, store your marijuana in a child-resistant container and make it inaccessible to them.
Evidence-based PracticesExperts attest that an optimal mix of prevention interventions is required to address substance use issues in communities because they are among the most difficult social problems to prevent or reduce. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) program grantees should consider comprehensive solutions that fit the particular needs of their communities and population, within cultural context, and take into consideration unique local circumstances, including community readiness. Some interventions may be evidence-based, while others may document their effectiveness based on other sources of information and empirical data.
Early intervention also is critical to treating mental illness before it can cause tragic results like serious impairment, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, and suicide. The [https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/block-grants/mhbg Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG)] directs states to set aside 5% of their MHBG allocation, which is administered by SAMHSA, to support evidence-based programs that address the needs of individuals with early serious mental illness, including psychotic disorders. [https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/mhbg-5-percent-set-aside-guidance.pdf The Guidance for Revision of the FY2014-2015 MHBG Behavioral Health Assessment and Plan (PDF | 92 KB)] provides additional information.
To prevent marijuana use before it starts, or to intervene when use has already begun, parents and other caregivers as well as those with relationships with young people--such as teachers, coaches, and others--should be informed about marijuana's effects in order to provide relevant and accurate information on the dangers and misconceptions of marijuana use. Comprehensive prevention programs focusing on risk and protective factors have shown success preventing marijuana use.^4,5^ Evidence-based strategies or best practices in community level prevention efforts can be used to assess, build capacity, plan, implement, and evaluate initiatives.^6^
Review SAMHSA's [https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/practicing-evidence-based-prevention criteria] for defining a prevention program or early intervention as evidence-based. Also, search SAMHSA's [http://www.nrepp.samhsa.gov/01_landing.aspx National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices] to find evidence-based programs related to [http://legacy.nreppadmin.net/SearchResultsNew.aspx?s=b&q=prevention+early+intervention prevention and early intervention] for all behavioral health issues.[[br]][[br]]
4. Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies. Prevention programs that address youth marijuana use. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2014.
5. Mason WA, Fleming CB, Haggerty KP. Prevention of marijuana misuse: School-, family-, and community-based approaches. In M. T. Compton (Ed.), Marijuana and Mental Health. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. In press.
6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Practicing effective prevention. [http://www.samhsa.gov/capt/practicing-effective-prevention]. Accessed on June 27, 2016.