In 2010 21.4 percent of high school students admitted that they had smoked marijuana during the last month, whereas 19.2 percent students said they had smoked cigarettes during the same period of time, showed the annual “Monitoring the Future” report conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This year numbers mark the first time that marijuana exceeded cigarettes in the corresponding age group since 1981.
Some public health groups have already started to hails the results of the survey stating it is a significant victory for the campaigns intended for reducing cigarette smoking among adolescents. However, the federal agency which tracks illegal drug consumption stated it was driven by the growth in teenage marijuana usage noting that it is widespread and would be continued, with even eighth-grade students admitting softer attitudes related to the risks of consuming pot.
Richard Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy at The Obama administration blamed certain medical marijuana ordinances such as California’s Proposition 19 for contributing to the assumption that marijuana is less dangerous for adolescents than tobacco.
“Saying that marijuana is ‘smoked medicine’ is totally wrong,” Kerlikowske declared during a news conference in Washington when revealing the results of the survey. He said that adolescents have got the “wrong message” from the discussions.
In the survey, the percentage of twelve-grade students who reported daily usage of pot constituted 6.1 percent – the highest proportion since the 1980s – and the proportion of 8th- and 10th-grade students consuming marijuana each day also grew, to 1% and 3%, correspondingly. While the younger seniors progress toward graduation, rate of marijuana-smokers will keep growing, scientists said.
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Drug Abuse Institute, admitted the increase in daily marijuana consumption is especially alarming, since frequent pot smoking has been demonstrated to be more detrimental to learning skills and memory than infrequent consumption – particularly in adolescents, whose brains are developing. Regular marijuana users are also more likely to become addicted to marijuana and other drugs, Dr. Volkow added.
Attitudes toward the Ecstasy as well became softer among high school seniors and usage climbed. Scientists said the growth is the vivid example “generational forgetting,” when a decline in usage is followed by a growth among teenagers who were not targeted by anti-drug campaigns.
In addition to growing trend of marijuana smoking, researchers also found out that 8 percent of high school seniors reported abusing the prescription painkiller medication Vicodin in 2010. Illegal usage of another painkiller OxyContin was not changed held among 10th-graders. 12th grade students admitted using medications prescribed for attention deficit disorder, as around 6.5 percent admitted using them, and nearly the same number consumed amphetamines.