A report released today by the Partnership for a Drug Free America shows that the number of American teenagers who use marijuana has increased for the first time in 10 years, with 25 percent of teens in grades 9 through 12 saying they’ve used marijuana in the past month, up from 19 percent.
What these numbers show—despite what organizations like PDFA might twist them to say—is that our current marijuana policies have clearly failed to reduce teen marijuana use, and a different approach is necessary. Right now, teens have easy access to marijuana because it is unregulated and controlled exclusively by drug dealers who do not check IDs.
The solution, therefore—as readers of this blog have heard time and again—is quite simple: Tax and regulate marijuana, so that it can be sold only by licensed merchants who would be required to check IDs and would face harsh penalties if they failed to do so. A similar approach has enabled this country to drastically reduce teen cigarette smoking over the past two decades. It’s also worked overseas. In the Netherlands, for example, marijuana is sold in regulated establishments to adults who must show proof of age. As a result, according to a 2008 World Health Organization survey, the overall rate of marijuana use in the Netherlands is less than half what it is in the United States. Additionally, only 7% of Dutch teens have tried marijuana by age 15. In the U.S., as many as 20.2% of teens have tried marijuana by age 15, according to government estimates.
If this country is serious about keeping marijuana out of the hands of teenagers, we need to accept the simple fact that prohibition does not work. Regulation does.
– Article from eNews Park Forest.
Study: Teen pot, alcohol use rising
by Jennifer C. Kerr, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Alcohol and marijuana use among teens is on the rise, ending a decade-long decline, a study being released Tuesday found.
“I’m a little worried that we may be seeing the leading edge of a trend here,” said Sean Clarkin, director of strategy at The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which was releasing the study. “Historically, you do see the increase in recreational drugs before you see increases in some of the harder drugs.”
The annual survey found the number of teens in grades 9 through 12 who reported drinking alcohol in the last month rose 11 percent last year, with 39 percent — about 6.5 million teens — reporting alcohol use. That’s up from 35 percent, or about 5.8 million teens, in 2008.
For pot, 25 percent of teens reported smoking marijuana in the last month, up from 19 percent.
Until last year, those measures for pot and alcohol use had been on a steady decline since 1998, when use hovered around 50 percent of teens for alcohol and 27 percent for pot.
The study also found use of the party drug Ecstasy on the rise. Six percent of teens surveyed said they used Ecstasy in the past month, compared with 4 percent in 2008.
If parents suspect their teen is using, they need to act quickly, Clarkin said. Monitor them more closely, talk with them about drugs, set rules and consult outside help, like a counselor, doctor, clergy or other resource, he said.
The researchers asked teens how they felt about doing drugs or friends who did them. The study found a higher percentage of teens than in the previous year agreed that being high feels good; more teens reported having friends who usually get high at parties; and fewer teens said they wouldn’t want to hang around kids who smoked pot.
Stacy Laskin, now 21 and a senior in college, said marijuana was everywhere during her high school years. Laskin said she tried pot and drank alcohol in high school, but didn’t make it a habit like other kids she knew.
“The behavior I saw people go through — and to see how far people can fall — really turned me away more than anything else,” Laskin said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Her close friend from high school died in 2008 from a heroin overdose. Laskin, a psychology major at Salisbury University in Maryland, was so torn by her friend Jeremy’s death that she decided to help others and is working on her second internship at a drug treatment center.
“Just seeing the negative impact made me want to get involved,” she said.
-Teen abuse of prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medicine remained stable from 2008 to 2009. About 1 in 7 teens reported abusing a prescription pain reliever in the past year; and about 8 percent of the teens questioned reported over-the-counter cough medicine abuse in the past year.
-Teen steroid and heroin use remained low at 5 percent for lifetime use.
The Partnership’s “attitude tracking” study was sponsored by MetLife Foundation. Researchers surveyed 3,287 teens in grades 9 through 12. Data were collected from questionnaires that teens filled out anonymously from March to June 2009. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
The New York-based Partnership is a nonprofit group working to reduce the use of illicit drugs.
On the Net:
Partnership for a Drug-Free America: http://www.drugfree.org
– Article from the Associated Press.