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Kids Toking Up at Highest Rate in Years

Cannabis

The use of cannabis amongst teens has risen over the past three decades

The Office of National Drug Control Policy revealed the current use of cannabis by teens has exceeded any other year since the early 1980s, and White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske says that’s because kids now associate it with medicine.

A new survey found that 6.1 percent of high school seniors use marijuana daily, and on a monthly basis, it’s more widely used than cigarettes.

“If young people don’t really perceive that [marijuana] is dangerous or of any concern, it usually means there’ll be an uptick in the number of kids who are using. And sure enough, in 2009, that’s exactly what we did see,” Kerlikowske told ABC News Radio.

Tougher enforcement and an effort to educate teens on the dangers of alcohol and tobacco have lead to their overall decreased use amongst high school seniors. But with the chatter of its ill effects dying down, and the rise in medical marijuana dispensaries across the country, the feeling is that kids no longer perceive pot as the dangerous or risky drug as it was once thought to be.

Most disturbing to Kerlikowske? The increase in marijuana use among eighth graders. “[It] should be a wakeup call to all of us,” he said.

However, not helping his case is a recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from the Scripps Research Institute in California, which investigated the effects of alcohol consumption as it pertains to adolescent brains. Researchers found that excessive alcohol consumption could predispose young adults to neurodegeneration later in life, thereby making it worse than marijuana use, which could actually cause an increase in neurogenesis in the brain.

Does this mean parents should realistically be nudging their kids towards bongs instead of Budweiser (and I’m only talking about the parents who can begrudgingly admit that their high school kids might possibly be among those who ingest some sort of substance that’s illegal, or at least illegal for anyone under the ages of 18 and 21)? If doctors are sanctioned to prescribe marijuana in some states, does that mean it can’t be as harmful as the drug czar says it is?

I’m not a big fan of marijuana, particularly since law enforcement agencies are only now starting to set limits for how much can be smoked before a person is legally prohibited from driving. But if that were to get regulated? Some of my concerns regarding responsible use by teens might fall by the wayside.

How do you feel about teens and marijuana? Is it any better or worse for them than smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol?

Image: Paul/freedigitalphotos.net

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