Marijuana Use Continues to Increase among 8th and 10th Graders
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 60 percent of high school seniors don't view regular marijuana use as harmful, according to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th-graders by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of Michigan. In addition, marijuana use over the past decade has continued to trend upwards among all three grades. Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the nation's leading substance abuse prevention organization, is concerned about these findings and calls for an increase in effective prevention efforts, such as the Drug-Free Communities program.
The survey found that only 39.5 percent of 12th graders view regular marijuana use as harmful, down from last year's rate of 44.1 percent, and considerably lower than rates from the last two decades. The findings also show that marijuana use increased among 8th and 10th graders between 2012 and 2013. In 2013, the annual prevalence rate of marijuana use (the percent using once or more in the prior 12 months) increased from 11.4 percent to 12.7 percent among 8th graders and from 28 percent to just under 30 percent among 10th graders, while among 12th graders, use continued at 36.4 percent.
Equally concerning is that there were no declines in daily marijuana use, which has the most impact on a young person's cognitive ability. Today, one in every 15 high school seniors (6.5 percent) is a daily or near-daily marijuana user. The comparable percentages among 8th and 10th graders are 1.1 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively.
"Whether youth perceive a drug to be harmful is a key indicator of future use so CADCA is extremely concerned that fewer teens view regular marijuana use as harmful. Not only are attitudes softening, but marijuana use is continuing to increase among our young people. These findings should concern parents, educators or anyone who cares about the ability of youth to succeed and thrive in our society," said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA's Chairman and CEO. "I would ask parents out there if they are comfortable with their kids using marijuana, which research shows lowers IQ and is addictive, especially in young people. I have a feeling if more people understood what's at stake, they would stand up on this issue."
The study also explored whether states with medical marijuana laws had an impact on youth marijuana use. According to the findings, of the 12th graders who say that they have used marijuana in the 12 months prior to the survey and who reside in states that passed such laws by the end of the year prior to the survey, a third (34 percent) say that one of their sources of marijuana is another person's medical marijuana prescription. And 6 percent say they get it from their own prescription.
"This proves that states with medical marijuana laws have failed at preventing diversion to young people and are in fact offering teens yet another avenue of obtaining the drug," CADCA's Gen. Dean noted.
The report also showed positive trends. For example, for the first time, the percentage of students in all three grades combined who say they smoked tobacco in the past month is below 10 percent (9.6 percent) compared to 16.7 percent 10 years ago and 24.7 percent in 1993. Daily smoking of cigarettes is now at 8.5 percent for 12th-graders, 4.4 percent for 10th-graders, and 1.8 percent for eighth-graders. The use of alcohol by teens also continued to decline. For 12th-graders, alcohol use peaked in 1997, with more than half (52.7 percent) reporting drinking alcohol in the past month. Only 39.2 percent of seniors reported past month use this year. Binge drinking (defined as having five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) dropped considerably for 10th- graders (to 13.7 percent from 15.6 percent in 2012.)
"We're incredibly pleased to see that alcohol and tobacco use are now at historic lows. That shows that when community coalitions push back on something, and we as a nation also push back in a systematic way, we see major results. However, with marijuana we're doing the opposite by calling for the legalization of the drug and now we're experiencing the results of those actions," CADCA's Gen. Dean said. "We need a greater investment in programs like the Drug-Free Communities programs, which funds community-based coalitions that have shown to be effective vehicles for reducing drug use rates among teens."
CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), is the national membership organization representing coalitions working to make America's communities safe, healthy and drug-free. CADCA's mission is to build and strengthen the capacity of community coalitions by providing technical assistance and training, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, conferences, and special events.
For more information about CADCA, visit www.cadca.org.
Contact: Natalia Martinez Duncan
703-706-0560 ext. 256