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Marijuana Use Rises in Popularity Among Teens

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Marijuana use is gaining in popularity among teens, according to Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th-graders, The New York Times reports. The survey found one of every 15 high school seniors smokes marijuana on an almost daily basis.

About 25 percent of teens who took part in the study said they used marijuana in the past year, an increase from 21 percent in 2007. Daily marijuana use is at a 30-year peak among high school seniors. The findings indicate a decline in the perceived risk of harm associated with marijuana use, according to a news release by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the survey.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the newspaper he believed the increasing prevalence of medicinal marijuana was a factor in the uptick. “These last couple years, the amount of attention that’s been given to medical marijuana has been huge,” he said. “And when I’ve done focus groups with high school students in states where medical marijuana is legal, they say ‘Well, if it’s called medicine and it’s given to patients by caregivers, then that’s really the wrong message for us as high school students.’”

Cigarette and alcohol use are at their lowest point since the survey began in 1975. Alcohol use in general and binge drinking in particular continued to gradually decline among teenagers. Energy drinks continue to be popular among teens—about one-third said they drink them.

The survey found 11.4 percent of high school seniors said they used synthetic marijuana, known as “Spice” and “K2,” in the past year. This was the first year the survey included questions about synthetic drugs.

Use of prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Adderall declined, as did use of sedatives and tranquilizers, the article noted. Cocaine use also decreased.

11 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Josh
    Josh / February 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    thats stupid, no idiot would ever agree to sell weed in such in obvious way, in front of a school bus. thats what the back of the gym is for. also, that guys gettin ripped off, i can get a little more than that for bout 15 dollars.

  2. compassion / December 20, 2011 at 11:18 am

    So either make ALL drugs that kids may abuse illegal – all Rx drugs that they get into, alcohol and tobacco – or stop the phony hypocritical attack on a substance that is, by comparison to most drugs, mild and beneficial to most. Having Mj illegal is a huge waste of lives and money.

  3. Ken Wolski / December 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

    The Drug Czar believes the “increasing prevalence of medicinal marijuana was a factor” in the rise of teen marijuana use. So far, 16 states and the District of Columbia have rejected the Drug Czar’s belief that there are no accepted medical uses for marijuana and that marijuana is unsafe for use even under medical supervision. Another 10 states are considering similar laws. Scores of legitimate health care organizations support immediate safe and legal access to the medical benefits of marijuana. What is driving the medical marijuana movement is the emerging science that supports the safety and efficiacy of marijuana/cannabis for a wide range of diseases, symptoms and conditions. Would the Drug Czar have us stop talking about medical marijuana? This new field of bio-science, the Endocannabinoid System, will not be denied, despite the best efforts of the federal government to deny access to marijuana in order to conduct research. With access to the Internet, teens are doing their own research. They are weighing the competing claims of the Drug Czar versus the emerging science that supports medical marijuana. It’s possible that some teens are self-medicating with marijuana for a variety of disorders.

  4. Avatar of Jerome Livingston
    Jerome Livingston / December 16, 2011 at 6:13 am

    In my memior “Lust of a Dope Fiend” I speak about smoking refer in school. It begin very innocently hanging out with the guys, at parties. Ane eventually leading to harder drugs herion and cocaine. For years I was addicted to drugs. I would tell teens drugs will ruin your life, education and other positive goals.

  5. Ned / December 15, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Kyle stop reacting so emotionally. Do you really not get my point or just distorting it to make yours? Where did I say we should allow teens access and use? I said, reduce, by changing the current paradigm, the factors that draw teens in. By the way, my original post was edited by moderators in a way I find disturbing.

    First, teens have curiosity of alcohol and tobacco, but they tend to have a real fascination about pot. The most effective way to get better control of pot in society is to legalize it for adults, OVER time, not overnight, the fascination will fade, providing REAL facts about it at the same time will also work to lessen their interest. Desperate parents and teachers has been exaggerating and hyperbolizing for years. Teens once they see that are even more fascinated. That cannot be reduced to zero. These substances will always be with us.

    Legalization will also end the opportunity for teens to enter the black market as participants. THAT temptation, making money outside the mainstream is probably more powerful than using and the two combined are extremely difficult to overcome. Changing that dynamic is something we can do, because we can’t make pot disappear. That will also have the benefit eliminating the underground pot subculture.

    There aren’t perfect solutions, what I hear here is frantic panicked parents demanding them. That isn’t going to happen. What we have been doing for years has brought these problems. Often what seems counterintuitive is what works best.

  6. maxwood / December 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Re the dilemma presented by Rose McKinney: the young man was getting two years of practice evading parental scrutiny and concealing personal behavior, coincidentally with any effects which could be accurately attributed to the cannabis. After school is past and it is time to self-promote and present his qualifications to an employer, this prohibition-inspired timidity and secretiveness turns out to be a disadvantage (and then “pot” is to blame).

  7. Avatar of Rose McKinney
    Rose McKinney / December 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Think this trend has a positive trajectory? Think it’s just a phase? Think again. Unknown to us until after the fact, our son spent junior and senior years of high school smoking pot five times a day. Interestingly his ACT and AP test scores as well as his athletic performance were exceptional so we were blind to the effects. Today, he lives a transient, unemployed, addicted lifestyle of denial; he believes he wouldn’t have any problems if pot were legal. Riiiight.

    Parents, there is a difference between partying or experimenting and that of addiction or chemical dependency. Our kids’ lives are at stake. Take action while you can, while they are still in high school. It’s a whole different deal once they turn 18.
    My heart and prayers go out to parents of teens who smoke pot and think it’s OK.

  8. Ned / December 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    The current total prohibition doesn’t work. How many more times do we have to say this to get it across the minds of those who claim to care. The photo with the story says a lot. There, you see what appears to be a transaction between two minors. Legalization with regulated distribution will reduce this occurrence significantly. On the right a teen is acting to make a profit based on the prohibition inflated value of pot. Simple enterprising capitalism. On the left, the teen is purchasing without concern about ID and age restrictions. That teen is also motivated by teen fascination with fruits forbidden. Legalization will reduce that fascination.

    Aside from that, despite baseless hysterical claims, marijuana is on balance less dangerous to use than alcohol. If a rise in pot use is also reducing alcohol use, then that is a net improvement in what teens are choosing to use.

    Again, marijuana is not going to disappear. Even less chance while prohibition guarantees high profits. There will not be the perfect solution that is the unattainable goal and promise of prohibition. We learned this long ago. It remains true. There is only the least bad approach, legalization like alcohol. At least that way, a regulatory system has a chance to, over time, effectively reduce use. The legal model of effective use reduction is tobacco. Legal, but use has declined.

  9. Ben House / December 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    To say it is medicine and therefore okay is indeed a concern. To say that marijuana is less harmful than is often presented is more likely true. What I would hope is researchers look at what changed adolescent perceptions on tobacco and alcohol and how we might do a better job of providing accurate information. Part of this is education on medicine and that most medicines have harmful side effects and that no medicine should be used casually and without medical supervision. I suspect the amount of advertising about medicine as a first line of defense has had an effect in these findings more than the legalization of marijuana as a medicine.

  10. Avatar of Kyle Prueter
    Kyle Prueter / December 15, 2011 at 10:23 am

    “That teen is also motivated by teen fascination with fruits forbidden. Legalization will reduce that fascination.”

    Wow! Legalizing marijuana will reduce facination? Do you realize that alcohol and tobacco are also illegal for minors?

    Are you saying that we should allow our teens, or younger, smoke, drink and do whatever they please? Would you be outraged with a parent that lets their toddler smoke or have a shot of vodka? Where do you draw the line?

    It is time we take a more active role in parenting our children. They have unformed minds and are not able to fully understand all of the consequenses of their actions. That is what a parent if for. Facilitating any form of chemical escapism is not healthy for our children.

  11. Arlo / December 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Ned has good points. I work in the field and I would rather Cannabis be decriminalized and regulated like Alcohol than legalized as “medicine”. I am a cancer survivor who smoked during radiation. It worked, but it is by no means “Medicine”. It is a substance that treats specific symptoms, it does not “cure”.

    We are sending a bad message to youth; “Its medicine, its good for you”. Since ’97 prescription med commercials have been on every comeercial break. Since ’97, prescription med abuse has risen exponentially. What teens percieve as safe increase their likely hood of trying.

    Decriminlize, regulate and enforce age requirements. Period!

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