Kids First Try Weed between 12 and 16

Liz Filmer
16 Mar 2023

On average, kids who smoke pot tend to start between the ages of 12 and 16. It isn't surprising, as cannabis is commonly considered less dangerous than "harder" drugs. World Health Organization (WHO) figures estimate that 2.5% of the world's population uses cannabis.

A US National Institute of Drug Abuse study discovered that 6.6% of eighth-graders had smoked cannabis in the past month. In comparison, 11.8% had smoked it in the past 12 months. When looking at 10th graders, those numbers leap to 18.4% and 28.8%, respectively. By senior year, 22.3% report cannabis use in the past month, while 35.7% report having smoked pot in the last year

The increase between 8th and 10th-grade teens tells us that peer usage is one of the main reasons teens begin experimenting with cannabis. Teens with siblings, relatives, or friends who do drugs are likelier to try drugs than those who do not have drug-using friends.

The transition from middle to high school brings upheavals and stress for kids. It can increase the likelihood of drug experimentation. Such changes include new friends, tensions, a desire to fit in, and different anticipations.

The availability of cannabis is also a Key Factor. Children who live in communities where drugs are openly sold or who witness their peers sell drugs are significantly more likely to begin smoking weed at an earlier age. In addition, researchers have found that teens who think their friends endorse drug use are more likely to use drugs early. This positive perception makes things feel safer and "normalises" recreational drug use.

Additionally, many places, such as many US states, have made recreational cannabis use legal for those 21. This goes a long way to making use among adults much more socially acceptable.

Other reasons that kids may try cannabis and other drugs at a young age go beyond availability include:

  • Escape and self-medication
  • Boredom
  • Rebellion
  • Instant gratification
  • Lack of confidence
  • Misinformation

Experts, alongside numerous canna legalisation advocates—agree that the later teens commence experimentation with cannabis, the better. Teenage brains are still growing, and the process doesn't stop until around 25. Smoking weed before all brain pathways have fully matured can hinder the development of executive function. When younger kids begin using cannabis, the higher the risk is that they will encounter cognitive problems later in life.


Liz Filmer