As more states adopt laws allowing medical marijuana, fewer teens see
occasional marijuana use as harmful, the largest national survey of
youth drug use has found.
Nearly 80% of high school seniors don't
consider occasional marijuana use harmful -- the highest rate since
1983-- and record numbers smoke it regularly, according to the annual
survey of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders made public Wednesday.
than one in five high school seniors said they smoked marijuana in the
month before the survey, and more than a third smoked marijuana during
the previous year, according to Monitoring the Future's survey of 45,449
students from 395 public and private schools. The survey has measured
drug, alcohol and cigarette use since 1975.
A growing number of
state laws that allow marijuana for medical use contributes to teen
perceptions that marijuana is not a harmful drug, said Dr. Nora Volkow,
director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on
Drug Abuse, which sponsors the study.
When teens perceive drugs
as safe, drug use generally increases, Volkow said. Among
eighth-graders, more than 50% don't see the harm of occasional marijuana
use while 42% consider occasional use of marijuana harmful -- the
lowest rate since the survey began tracking risk perception for this age
group in 1991.
A study published this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
found that heavy marijuana use beginning as a teen and stretching into
adulthood causes an average drop of 8 points in IQ scores.
"That's a very robust indication that (smoking marijuana) may have long-term effects," Volkow said.
2012 survey found 6.5% of high school seniors smoke marijuana daily, up
from 5.1% five years ago. Almost 23% smoke marijuana regularly. Among
10th-graders, 3.5% smoke marijuana daily, the survey found. Marijuana
use escalates dramatically after eighth grade, when 1.1% of the students
report daily use.
But even most eighth-graders don't see the harm of occasional use, the survey found.
think that's the bad news in the survey -- the significant increases in
the regular use of marijuana," Volkow said. "It's not just the
occasional use. You have a very high rate of daily use. That's really a
Use of other illegal drugs continued to show a
steady decline. Past-year use of all illegal drugs except for marijuana
is a record low for all three grades, the survey found.
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.
The survey for the first
time measured use of an emerging stimulant drug known as "bath salts,"
and found low use among teenagers. Among 12th-graders, 1.3% said they
had used the drugs, which can often be purchased on the internet or in
drug paraphernalia stores.
Among 12th-graders, 11% said they had
used synthetic marijuana know as K2 or Spice -- about the same as last
year. The federal government recently banned the drugs.