Pot Use Students High
December 16, 2011 by staff
Pot Use Students High, One in 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a daily or near daily basis — the highest rate in 30 years — even as use of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine among teenagers continues to slowly decline, according to a government report.
The popularity of marijuana, now more prevalent among 10th-graders than cigarettes, reflects what researchers and drug officials say is a growing perception among teens that habitual marijuana use carries little risk of harm.
That perception, experts say, is fueled in part by wider familiarity with medicinal marijuana and greater ease in obtaining it.
Although it is difficult to track the numbers, “we’re clearly seeing an increase in teenage marijuana use that corresponds pretty clearly in time with the increase in medical marijuana use,” said Dr. Christian Thurstone, medical director of the adolescent substance abuse treatment program at Denver Health and Hospital Authority, who was not involved in the study.
Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states, including California and the District of Columbia.
The long-running annual report, financed by the National Institutes of Health, looked at more than 46,000 students nationwide. Overall, about 25 percent of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders who took part in the study reported using marijuana in the past year, up from about 21 percent in 2007.
Federal drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske said 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 its called medicine and it’s given to patients by caregivers, then that’s really the wrong message for us as high school students.’ ”
Mark Baumgartner, director of inpatient treatment services at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, said it was “not uncommon” for young adult patients to show up with medical marijuana cards, which can be obtained to treat such conditions chronic pain or migraines.
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