More teens in NJ are vaping marijuana as other drug use declines
A new survey finds about 20% of high school students have tried vaping marijuana over the past year.
The Monitoring the Future report, conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, also finds a growing number of middle school students are also vaping pot.
Dr. Ruben Baler, the National Institute on Drug Abuse health scientist administrator, said the survey found over the past 12 months 20.8% of 12th graders have vaped marijuana, 19.4% of 10th graders tried it and 7% of 8th graders have.
He also noted marijuana vaping has more than doubled in the teen population over the past two years.
“Some of them use it just to experiment: 60% say because to see if they like it, they’re just curious about the experience. And many of the kids are vaping because their friends do it," Baler said.
He agrees that flavored vapes are attractive to teens.
He said the marijuana being vaped is very high potency and more education is needed to warn young people about the harmful effects they can experience.
“Obviously, we are doing something wrong if the prevalence of this illegal drug among adolescents is so high," he said.
Baler said the survey also has some good news about other drugs, which are on the decline with adolescents.
The poll found over the past year 3.6% of 12th graders tried LSD, 3.3% experimented with synthetic cannabinoids, 2.2% had tried cocaine or ecstasy, and 0.4% had used heroin.
The misuse of prescription pain medication has also dropped. Last year only 1.7% of 12th graders reported using Oxycontin, the lowest level since it was first measured at 4% in 2002.
The survey found the misuse of the ADHD medication Adderall has declined. It has dropped over the past five years from 6.8% to 3.9% among 12th graders.
"We see historic lows in the prevalence of traditional tobacco and alcohol use among adolescents, and that’s very encouraging," he added.
In 2019, 2.4% of 12th graders said they smoked cigarettes daily, a significant decline from 3.6% in 2018.
The self-report survey is given annually to students who respond to questions about their drug use and attitudes.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com