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Teens Don’t See Marijuana Danger: Survey [AUDIO]

Marijuana use continues to be prevalent amongst teenagers, and a new report finds a majority of high school seniors see no danger in using the drug.

Marijuana
David McNew, Getty Images

The Monitoring the Future survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found 60 percent of United States high school seniors do not consider regular marijuana use harmful to their health, and more than a third of the seniors surveyed admitted to smoking marijuana in the past 12 months.

Only 2.4 percent of high school seniors reported using marijuana daily in 1993. But 20 years later, that number has ballooned up to 6.5 percent.

Twelve percent of eighth-graders said they had tried marijuana.

“We’re not only seeing a steady use of marijuana, but the numbers are slowly creeping up across all age categories,” said Angelo Valente, executive director of Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

Valente associates the increase with recent efforts to legalize marijuana.

As pot usage is on the rise, however, other types of dangerous behaviors have declined among teens.

The rate of alcohol use, while still high — close to 40 percent of seniors reported drinking in the past month — has been on the decline since peaking in 1997. Additionally, less than 10 percent of students surveyed said they used cigarettes within the last three months.

Valente attributed the change in cigarette use to a drop in adult smoking, noting that people may be starting to get more health-conscious. But he said the attention given to medical marijuana has sent a different message to teenagers.

“You don’t see any group, or individual, or legislator, speaking about the medical benefits of tobacco, but we do see people speaking about the medical benefits of marijuana,” Valente said. “It’s certainly a message that is penetrating among young people.”

The survey also finds use of prescription drugs remains an issue for teens, while use of cocaine, heroin, and synthetic drugs have all dropped.

Valente said parents should have honest discussions with their teens about drugs, and express a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to using any of them.

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