Drug use among teenagers in San Diego's criminal justice system was at a nearly two-decade high in 2018, according to a newly released study by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
The report called "2018 Juvenile Arrestee Drug Use in the San Diego Region" used voluntary urine samples of 105 youth to create an objective measure to track drug use over time, according to the study.
The study found that three in five youth interviewed in 2018 tested positive for some type of drug, the most common being marijuana. The number was up 5 percent from the previous year and was the highest rate in San Diego County in the last 19 years, according to the report.
The teens most frequently told interviewers that their friends were their main source for information about drugs. The internet was the second most common answer, the study said.
The report said about nine in ten kids said Marijuana was as easy to get as alcohol and even easier to get ahold of than tobacco products.
Only 11 percent of the kids interviewed thought that marijuana was harmful as opposed to 60 percent that thought cigarettes were harmful.
SANDAG said while the study focused on youth in the juvenile justice system, it can be used to understand risk factors and warning signs, including home environment, mental health and school truancy.
Even though marijuana is legal in the state of California, it is still considered a gateway drug. SANDAG recommends that parents talk to their children about drugs and alcohol as the best way to avoid use.