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Teenagers Now Think Pot Is Safer

Marijuana use among high school students continues to rise; they perceive it as less harmful than before.


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By Chrisanne Grise


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The continuing, growing popularity of marijuana among US high school students, combined with decreased concern about pot's potential for harm, has experts worried. According to the new Monitoring the Future survey of 45,000 students by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 36% of high school seniors have smoked pot at least once over the last year. And 6.5% say they use it daily—that’s up from 5.1% last year. Marijuana is still the most popular illicit drug—followed by synthetic marijuana. But use of illicit drugs other than pot has hit a low for students in the eighth, 10th and 12th grades. Researchers are concerned that teens now perceive pot as less dangerous than at any time in decades: only 20.6% of the 12th-graders surveyed see occasional pot use as harmful, and only 44.1% believe regular use is detrimental—the lowest rate since 1979. Experts warn that as more states consider legalization measures, teen marijuana use may continue to rise. "We are increasingly concerned that regular or daily use of marijuana is robbing many young people of their potential to achieve and excel in school or other aspects of life," says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske agrees, saying, "Now more than ever we need parents and other adult influencers to step up and have direct conversations with young people about the importance of making healthy decisions.” 

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