By Ross Parker
The use of marijuana by American teens continues to increase. Unlike use of other drugs and alcohol, which are either decreasing or remaining stable, the use by 8th and 10th graders went up 1.3 and 1.8 % in 2013, according to the Monitoring the Future study conducted by the University of Michigan of 40,000 to 50,000 teen agers in 389 private and public secondary schools.
Even more important than this result is the sharp decline among teens in the perception that marijuana use is risky. During the preceding eight years the percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders who see great risk from regular pot use has gone down from 74 to 61%, 66 to 47%, and 58 to 40%, respectively.
Another significant finding is that, during the years 2012 and 2013 in states where medical marijuana is legal, one-third of the 12th grade users say that one of their sources is another person’s medical marijuana prescription.
The most encouraging result of the study is that the use of “synthetic” marijuana is decreasing significantly, and the use of bath salts remains stable at a relatively low level. Moreover, teens increasingly report that the risk of these synthetics is great. This result seems to credit the work of DEA, local law enforcement and other sources to publicize the significant dangers of these drugs, as well as the speedy scheduling and aggressive enforcement activity.
Drug use in decline among teens include: narcotics (other than heroin), OxyContin, Vicodin, and most hallucinogens. Alcohol use is also down, the lowest in over two decades. Drugs that are essentially stable in use include: heroin, LSD, amphetamines, Adderall, methamphetamine, Ketamines and steroids.
The study was funded by research grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. It was conducted by research professors at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. 2013 was the 39th year that the study has been conducted. The results will be published in a volume of Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use later this year.