Teenagers Becoming Less Concered With Dangers Of Marijuana Use
December 19, 2012

Teenagers Becoming Less Concered With Dangers Of Marijuana Use

[Watch Video: Teens Less Concerned With Marijuana Dangers]

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

According to a new survey, fewer teens see smoking pot as harmful, but the increase in everyday smokers is starting to level out.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that 36 percent of high school seniors surveyed in 2012 said they smoked marijuana at least once in the previous year.

Marijuana has been the most-popular illicit drug, and for the past four years it has seen an increase in annual prevalence. However, the study saw that using pot daily rose to just 6.5 percent, from 5.1 percent a year ago, showing a trend that perhaps the drug is leveling off.

The study found that 11 percent of 12th graders have tried synthetic pot in the last year, which was the same level with the previous survey performed in 2011.

Lloyd Johnston, a research professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor who led the study, told Bloomberg that "there isn't much evidence for increasing use this year."

The survey also showed that 21 percent of high school seniors see occasional marijuana use as harmful, which is the lowest percentage since 1983.

The study also looked at alcohol use, showing that 24 percent of high school seniors engaged in binge drinking two weeks before the survey, which was an increase of 2 percentage points compared to the 2011 stats.

Over 45,000 students from 400 public schools completed the Monitoring the Future survey, which began in 1975.

Studies have shown that those who smoke pot heavily in their teens and into their adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38.

While the idea of marijuana use among teens seem to have a dampening effect, a few states in the last election voted to legalize marijuana, and regulate it like alcohol.

Washington and Colorado both voted to legalize marijuana, and while the vote legalizes it for the states, it is still illegal to use federally. However, President Barack Obama last week said the federal government will not spend their time going after marijuana users in those two states.

Seeing this survey, some are still worried that teenagers are starting to have too loose of a view on marijuana use and the dangers that it can pose.

"We are increasingly concerned that regular or daily use of marijuana is robbing many young people of their potential to achieve and excel in school or other aspects of life," Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of NIDA, told the HuffPost.

She said teens are influenced by whether a drug is legal in some form when deciding to try it, so in states like Colorado and Washington, "the deterrent is no longer present."

Some have a different perspective, and are positive about the survey's results, and the overall declines in use of drugs in America's youth.

"These long-term declines in youth drug use in America are proof that positive social change is possible," White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said in a statement.