Shocker: The Partnership at Drugfree.org conducted a study on teen marijuana use, and the results are not positive.
Equally big shocker: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who never misses an opportunity to criticize medical marijuana, is using the report to climb on the anti-cannabis soapbox again.
"Monitoring the Future," conducted at the University of Michigan, studied 3,322 high school teens in grades 9-12 and found that one in ten smokes herb at least twenty times per month. The report says usage among teens has increased as much as 21 percent, which its authors see as translating to eight million more teens.
According to Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org:
"These data set the scene for a 'perfect storm' that will threaten the health of a generation of American teens. Science has shown that adolescent brains are still developing and are more easily harmed by drug and alcohol use than fully developed adult brains."
The report points to a normalization of marijuana in society as the primary reason for the increase in use. About 51 percent of the kids interviewed say they see great risk in marijuana use, down about 10 percentage points.
"We believe that this decline in perceived risk has played an important role in the increases in teen use of marijuana, as it has done in the past," says P\professor Lloyd Johnston, the study's principal investigator. "The fact that perceived risk is still falling portends a further increase in use."
The report partially blames the lack of government-sponsored anti-drug programs for the increase, adding that parents need to play a more active role to prevent kids from abusing drugs and alcohol.
Downplayed are survey results showing about a 17 percent lifetime abuse rate of prescription drugs and an approximately 12 percent rate for over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like cough syrup and cold medicines. The study contends that roughly 10 percent of teens have abused Vicodin and Oxycontin in the last year, a figure similar to last year's even though pharmaceutical drugs have supposedly become easier to get.
Not surprisingly, AG Suthers jumped on the report, using it as an excuse to promote his own conclusions about teens and state-licensed medical marijuana.
"Given the path Colorado has gone down -- creating a marijuana industry far beyond what the voters approved in Amendment 20 -- this growth in teenage marijuana use and the diminished perception of risk are highly predictable," said Suthers in a statement. "I would encourage Colorado policymakers to consider the trajectory we are on as they consider future marijuana laws and policies."
Of course, there haven't been any reported illegal MMJ sales to minors from dispensaries (unlike liquor stores). Neither have there been any overdoses -- and patients are living more healthy lifestyles thanks to medical cannabis. No wonder kids are starting to open their eyes and realize that marijuana use isn't "risky" and that it is a perfectly normal part of society.
"Adolescents are seeing less long-term risk in using marijuana," the report states. "Since 2008, there have been declines in their perceptions that they will lose respect, harm themselves, or mess up their lives if they use marijuana."
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But again, kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They realize that the Reefer Madness approach is bullshit and that they won't lose respect, harm themselves or mess up their lives just because they use marijuana.