Lifestyle & Belief

Teen marijuana use at a 30-year high


A medical marijuana advocate demonstrates outside the W Hotel in San Francisco, Calif., on Oct. 25, 2011.


Justin Sullivan

Marijuana use among US teenagers is at a 30-year high, according to a nationwide survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The survey found one out of every 15 high school seniors smoked pot on a daily or near-daily basis, numbers not seen since 1981, CBS News reported.

The “Monitoring the Future” survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, found that more than 36 percent of high school seniors, almost 29 percent of high school sophomores and 12.5 percent of eighth-graders used marijuana in the past year, CBS News reported.

One reason why marijuana use in increasing is that “the perceived risk is down” which creates “the norms against its use to weaken,” Lloyd Johnson, the survey’s principal investigator at the University of Michigan, told the Christian Science Monitor.

US Drug Czar R. Gil Kerlikowske told the New York Times that he also blames the wider availability of medical marijuana. “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.’”

While marijuana use is up, the survey found students indulging in other vices less. Cigarette smoking among all three grades has dropped 60 percent over the last 15 years, the survey said, according to the Christian Science Monitor. There’s less binge drinking than ever before, with only 22 percent of students admitting to consuming more than four or five drinks in one sitting versus 41 percent in 2006. And researchers found that use of other drugs, including crack, cocaine, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, sedatives, tranquilizers and prescription drugs like Adderall, had also declined, the New York Times reported.

More from GlobalPost: Pot-shaped candy outrages activists, lawmakers