Study: Teen Pot Use Up, Alcohol Use Down

A national drug survey released this week has found that teenagers are using marijuana at record levels, with one in 15 high school seniors reporting smoking pot daily or almost daily.  The study found that alcohol use among teens, by contrast, is at an all-time low, with 40 percent of high school seniors admitting to drinking alcohol during the past 30 days (54 percent said the same in 1991).

The Associated Press reports on the rise in marijuana use, as well as a heightened use of synthetic marijuana products with names like “Spice” and “K2, saying that one explanation for is that teenagers do not see the drug as a health risk:

The percentage of teens saying they see “great risk” in using marijuana generally has dropped in recent years.

“One thing we’ve learned over the years is that when young people come to see a drug as dangerous, they’re less likely to use it,” Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “That helps to explain why marijuana right now is rising, because the proportion of kids who see it as dangerous has been declining.”

The study said marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year after considerable decline in the preceding decade.

The survey found 36.4 percent of 12th-graders reported using marijuana in the past year, compared to 31.7 percent in the 2007 survey. Usage was at 28.8 percent for 10th-graders and 12.5 percent for eighth-graders within the previous 12 months, according to the 2011 survey.

The synthetic drug survey question was asked for the first time this year. Fake marijuana, sometimes sold in drug paraphernalia shops and on the Internet as incense, contains organic leaves coated with chemicals that provide a marijuana-like high when smoked.

A Drug Enforcement Administration emergency order banning the sale of five chemicals used in herbal blends to make synthetic marijuana took effect March 1. The synthetics are among the many that would be banned under a bill passed in the U.S. House earlier this month. Many states also have their own laws banning the sale of synthetic marijuana.

Image: Cigarette smoke, via Shutterstock.

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  1. by Coach Nakumbe

    On December 16, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I met with a group of teens that swore up and down that they were not high and that they did not smoke marijuana – they even offered to submit a urine test. After further discussion, they added in a calm manner, that they had smoked SPICE. (Spice: Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product which, when consumed mimics the effects of cannabis. It is best known by the brand names K2 and Spice – National Institute of Health)

    I explained to them all that all though this drug use will not be detected in a urine test as the same as marijuana would, synthetic drugs are a real “real risk and not a beneficial substitute”.

    This is serous stuff and I hope our teens learn of it’s natural consequences before it’s too late.

    Coach Nakumbe, Family Intervention Strategist and Mentor Coach

  2. by Benjamin Dover

    On December 16, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Let’s get with the program people. It’s time to wake up and realize that the government is doing more harm than good by keeping marijuana out of stores, and on the streets. Even worse, kids are smoking “synthetic marijuana” that poses incredible health risks, as many have reported experiencing seizures, as well as a few instances of death directly related to the chemicals in K2. Kids are going to smoke pot. That’s not going to stop, similar to prohibition on alcohol. Criminals are going to keep making money, and kids are going to continue to either find bud, or hurt themselves by inhaling poison.
    The numbers get worse as kids get into college, I assume. The government simply needs to tax the hell out of it, and make it available for the American consumer; leaving it out of the hands of criminals.

  3. by Nicole

    On December 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  4. by natie

    On December 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Drunk kids run stop signs…..stoned kids wait for them to turn green.

  5. by Amos Wethje

    On January 5, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Took me ages to find this post, this time Ill bookmark it.