Today’s youth have become Generation Wrecked.

The number of young adults smoking marijuana has skyrocketed as cannabis usage has been legalized across much of the United States — including now in New York, a new survey released Monday reveals.

Twenty six percent of people ages 18 to 29 — a group that includes older members of Generation Z and younger Millennials — smoke marijuana, up from 17% in 2015, the Gallup Poll analysis found.

That’s more than double the number of young adults who smoke cigarettes, which has plummeted from 35% in 2003, to 25% a decade ago to 12% today, the Gallup report said.

“Public health officials would be encouraged by the steep decline in cigarette smoking over the past two decades, a trend driven largely by plummeting smoking rates among young adults,” Gallup’s analysis says.

“But young adults are increasingly smoking marijuana, perhaps because it is now legal to use in a growing number of states, and vaping. Both vaping and marijuana are more common activities for young adults than traditional cigarette smoking.”

Lighting up marijuana cannabis joint
The number of young adults smoking marijuana has skyrocketed.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Twenty one states have now legalized cannabis for recreational use — including many states in the population centers on the East and West Coasts.

Other states, such as Florida and Pennsylvania, have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The Gallup analysis buttresses a recent study by Temple University Researchers published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

“Following recreational legalization:  adolescent and young adult past-month cannabis use prevalence increased,” the study said.

The researchers warned about an increase in addictive pot smoking or  “cannabis use disorder” that was going untreated.

“Among young adults, an association of higher cannabis use prevalence with lower CUD treatment admissions emerged,” the study said.

Opponents of marijuana legalization said their warnings have come to fruition.

“Marijuana use was on a decades-long decline thanks to the concerted work of prevention efforts, but the legalization and commercialization of marijuana is threatening to erase those public health gains,” said Kevin Sabet, president of the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

“We also can’t ignore the fact that young people are beginning to use new forms of today’s super high potency marijuana, such as vapes and concentrates, that are significantly linked to serious harms to mental health and higher rates of addiction.”

cannabis young adults
Supporters, however, said they were glad people were using it legally.

“I’m just happy to be part of this going forward. I’m passionate about changing the stigma around cannabis. There’s a stigma but the culture is shifting,” said Nicholas Koury, who was last week awarded one of New York state’s first licenses to open a cannabis store in Manhattan.

“The stigma is not necessarily accurate. Cannabis can be helpful to people’s mental state and there are medicinal benefits.”

Twenty six percent of people ages 18 to 29 smoke marijuana, up from 17% in 2015.

In New York, which just issued the first round of 28 cannabis shop licenses last week, is already grappling with a burgeoning unlicensed and unregulated black market where bodegas and other head shops are openly selling weed and cannabis candy.

Some young smokers also appear to have switched to vaping, or less toxic e-cigarettes, according to Gallup

About  7% of U.S. adults reported smoking e-cigarettes, or vaped, in the past week.

But vaping is far more common among  young adults — nearly one in five 19% of 18- to 29-year-olds vape. Nicotine-based e-smoking was much less common among older groups.

Overall, 27% of all American adults smoke either marijuana, cigarettes or vapes.

But 40% of young adults smoke at least one of the three — mostly weed or vapes.


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