The federal government just released the latest ‘Monitoring The Future‘ survey of teen drug use, and as Bruce Mirken over at the Marijuana Policy Project wrote, “the results do not bode well for current policies.”
In the past 30 days, more high school seniors smoked marijuana (20.6 percent) than smoked tobacco (20.1 percent), according to the survey.
In 2009, marijuana use in the prior 12 months was reported by about 12 percent of the nation’s 8th graders, 27 percent of 10th graders, and 33 percent of 12th graders.
While teen marijuana use is slightly up, it’s in the same general range it’s been in for years; meanwhile, teen tobacco use continues to decline, and has dropped precipitously since 1990.
“Regulation of tobacco, combined with solid educational campaigns, has clearly cut youth access to cigarettes,” Mirken said, “It’s time for officials to take off their blinders and apply those same proven policies to marijuana.”
|Legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t increase teen pot use.|
Although mainstream media — including reporter David N. Goodman for AP, who should know better — predictably tried to blame the increase on medical marijuana, there is one striking exception to the general rise in teen marijuana use: In states where medical marijuana is legal, use by teens has actually gone down.
“So far, we have not seen any dramatic rise in marijuana use, but the upward trending of the past two or three years stands in stark contrast to the steady decline that preceded it by nearly a decade,” said University of Michigan researcher Lloyd Johnson, the study’s main investigator.
|Photo: Herr Andrax|
”Not only is use rising, but a key belief about the degree of risk associated with marijuana use has been in decline among young people even longer, and the degree to which teens disapprove of use of the drug has recently begun to decline,” Johnson said. “Changes in these beliefs and attitudes are often very influential in driving changes in use.”
While teen marijuana use is slightly increasing, the majority of illicit drugs covered in the study showed little further change this year — so much for the gateway theory!
Most drugs are at levels of use that are considerably below the recent peaks reached since the mid-1990s. These include ecstasy, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, tranquilizers, and three so-called “club drugs,” Rohypnol (the “date rape” drug), GHB, and ketamine.
Alcohol use has generally been in a long-term, gradual decline at all grade levels, with past-month prevalence having fallen from recent peak levels by more than 40 percent among 8th grades, by more than 25 percent among 10th graders, and by about one sixth among 12th graders. This year only the 8th graders showed a continuation of the decline, while use in the upper grades leveled off.
Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults. Each year, a total of about 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students are surveyed. The project has been funded under a series of grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).