A study released yesterday shows evidence of something most of us already know: teenagers like smoking weed. However, the study shows that teens apparently like smoking weed significantly more now than they did two years ago. Meanwhile, teens abusing other — government regulated — drugs is on the decline, which has weed advocates declaring the “war on drugs” a failure (again).
The study, the 23rd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, shows that teen marijuana use is up, with 27-percent of teens (about 1.5 million) admitting to smoking weed in the past month. That’s up from 19-percent in 2008.
In contrast, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, teens who admitted to smoking cigarettes in the past month is on the decline, with 22-percent of teens copping to smoking in the past month. That’s down from 27-percent last year.
The problem, according to the DPA: the prohibitionist approach to marijuana policy isn’t working, and the “war on drugs” is a failure.
“The continued decline in teen cigarette smoking is great news – not just because it’s the most deadly drug but also because it reveals that legal regulation and honest education are more effective than prohibition and criminalization,” DPA publications manager Jag Davies says “Although the U.S. arrests 750,000 people every year for nothing more than possessing a small amount of marijuana, teens consistently report that marijuana is easier to obtain than alcohol.”
As we’ve pointed out in other weed-related posts, nobody in the history of weed or death has died from a marijuana overdose. The same cannot be said about alcohol
Anti-drug advocates, obviously, disagree — claiming the rise in marijuana use isn’t because it’s easy to get, but because smoking weed’s become more accepted; it’s become “normalized behavior.”
Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, says parents are the problem — he says they’re not taking marijuana use as seriously as they should, which is what’s causing the “normalization” of their kids’ smoking pot.
“Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them,” Pasierb says. “Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can’t wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy.”
He goes on to say “heavy use of marijuana — particularly beginning in adolescence — brings the risk of serious problems and our data show it is linked to involvement with alcohol and other drugs as well. Kids who begin using drugs or alcohol as teenagers are more likely to struggle with substance use disorders when compared to those who start using after the teenage years.”
Davies — and the majority of the marijuana legalization crowd — doesn’t advocate allowing teens to smoke weed. He just suggests regulation will help curb teen marijuana use better than criminalization.
“It’s time we developed a comprehensive strategy for dealing with drug abuse in the 21st century by focusing on what works and what doesn’t. It’s time to step back and ask ourselves what’s the best way to solve the problem we’re trying to solve–how to reduce drug abuse and addiction–and use the best available evidence to guide us,” he says. “And, ultimately, it’s time to bring marijuana out of the shadows and under the rule of law. The evidence shows that the most effective way to reduce teen marijuana use would be to regulate it in a manner similar to alcohol, with age limits, licensing controls, and other regulatory restrictions.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 3, 2012