More evidence that legalizing something makes it more palatable to the public has been proven once again as information surfaces that marijuana use is growing among teens. According to Monitoring the Future survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 60% of United States high school seniors do not consider marijuana harmful to their health. The survey also noted that more than one third of seniors admit to smoking marijuana in the last 12 months.
Monitoring the Future talks to students
In the survey, Monitoring the Future discussed alcohol and drug use with 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th graders, specifically what the students attitudes were towards illegal substances. The survey was done in 2013 and included an estimated 41,000 students from 389 U.S. public and private schools participated.
How big is the problem of marijuana use? Consider that in 1993 only 2.4% of high school seniors reported using marijuana daily, now that total has increased to a whopping 6.5%. Younger students are also using marijuana. For instance, an estimated 12% of eighth grade students admitted to using marijuana at some point during their life.
How dangerous is marijuana use?
One of the main concerns of medical experts is the increase in the levels of THC the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana- in todays pot. With the increase of this component over the last two decades medical experts argue that the damage done to the brains of our youths could be much more serious than it was 10 or 20 years ago. What are some of the main concerns? Doctors note that continued experimentation can cause a decline in the IQ of users and the motivation to succeed in life.
Marijuana is not the only concern for teens
While teen drinking has been on the decline since 1997, students are now reporting that they are more likely not only to smoke pot but also to abuse prescription medications such as Vicodin and Adderall.
One bright spot of news in the survey is that synthetic drug use is down, with less than 1% of students in all three grades reported using bath salts, a family of drugs that contain synthetic chemicals. Students are also using K2 or Spice, also called synthetic marijuana, less than they have in the past. This is great news according to researchers because synthetic drugs may have ingredients which are unknown and have not been tested.
Other drugs such as inhalants, cocaine and heroin are also on the decline, with only 4% of seniors reporting that they have used Ecstasy. This percentage is down almost 5% from 2001 when an estimated 9.2% reported using the synthetic drug, the report authors said.
Students obtain marijuana in states where it is legal
Next year researchers will begin to study whether the states which have legalized marijuana use have begun to see an increase in teen usage. The expectation is that they will, considering that many teens reported that they were able to get marijuana by usingtheir own or someone else's prescription.