Teen marijuana use up

Dec 19, 2012

More teens are getting high on marijuana.  According to a national survey, high school kids are also less likely than in previous years to see marijuana use as harmful.

The Monitoring the Future survey, conducted for the National Institutes of Health, gives us a snapshot of how teenagers are thinking about and using all kinds of drugs. When it comes to marijuana, nearly 1 in 4 high school seniors now report regularly smoking or ingesting pot in some form—a significant increase from 5 years ago. And there’s something even more disturbing to health officials. The number of teens who don't seek smoking pot as risky behavior is growing.

Roger Roffman, retired University of Washington School of Social Work professor, specializes in marijuana addiction. He says the national numbers regarding teen marijuana use are disturbing.

“I fear far too many teens believe that getting high is no big deal,” he said.

Roffman supported legalization of marijuana in Washington state, in part, because it means money from permitting fees and taxes will now be available to educate teens about the dangers of drug use. His hope is that teens will understand the risks in marijuana when they learn that using it can affect learning, memory and the ability to communicate.

“When young people start to smoke marijuana early, and do so regularly, they are at high risk of being derailed from preparation for adulthood,” Roffman said.

While the latest survey shows marijuana use on the rise among teens, use is still nowhere near what it was  among high school kids in the 1970s.