New survey shows that one in ten teens is lighting up twenty times a month or more, far more than earlier surveys reported.
The argument for drug decriminalization has always been that if drugs were legalized, illicit trafficking would drop, drug cartels would lose their power and financial base, and all would be good. A new survey of America’s teens shows that it’s just not going to work this way.
A new survey from the non-profit anti-drug group The Partnership at Drugfree.org shows that in the years following the liberalization of medical use of marijuana, nearly ten percent of our teens are heavy marijuana users, smoking the addictive drug twenty times a month or more. This means that past-month heavy marijuana use has increased 80% since 2008. (1)
In other results from this survey:
- Every month, more than one out of four teens are lighting up at least once, another statistic that’s on the increase.
- Only 26% of students say that most of their schoolmates do not use marijuana.
- Only about half the students said that they “strongly disapprove” of marijuana use, down 11% since 2005.
- Teen who are “heavy” marijuana users are 30 times more likely to use cocaine or crack, 20 times more likely to use Ecstasy, and 15 times more likely to abuse prescription painkillers. (2)
How Does this Increase Tie in With Medical Marijuana Distribution?
Medical marijuana distribution has now spread to sixteen US states. In California alone, it’s a $2 billion dollar industry annually. (3)
Online directories offers up listings of thousands of marijuana dispensaries. One Los Angeles area directory offers nine dispensaries in the Sunland/Tujunga area and sixty in downtown Los Angeles. A Colorado directory has nineteen cities listed, with East Denver alone possessing 52 locations.
But there are definite signs that the presence of marijuana dispensaries are affecting the judgment and habits of the young of Colorado. School suspensions and expulsions for drug violations have been increasing for the last four years. Expulsions are up 35%, suspensions are up 45%. In Denver, referrals to law enforcement for school drug violations are up 71% over the same four year period. According to one report, students stand outside some of the dispensaries (fifty-three of which are 1,000 feet or less from school premises), asking people who are entering to buy them the drug. (4)
Colorado went through a number of stages of permitting medical marijuana distribution, but the major expansion of this business in the state occurred in 2009.
Teens Surrounded by a Culture that is More and More Pro-Marijuana
Tony Bylsma, President of Drug Prevention and Education California, pointed out that teens receive a steady stream of pro-marijuana messages. “Movies, television shows, magazines, celebrities who use marijuana or stump for its legalization, books, video games, maybe even the presence of a marijuana dispensary on the way to school – why should teens even think twice about using this drug?” he asked.
On their website, President of The Partnership at Drugfree.org Steve Pasierb noted that parents too often have the mindset that their children are just using a little weed and may not assign much importance to it. But according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), there is no greater anti-drug power in the world than parents. Joseph Califanao, CASA’s President, has repeatedly stated that a child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so. (5)
Is Smoking Marijuana Something Parents Should be Worried About?
Mr. Bylsma cited the statistics on the number of young people who need addiction treatment before they can get their marijuana use under control. “In 2009, more than 360,000 people went to treatment programs for help with marijuana addiction. Three out of ten were aged seventeen or younger. Almost half were under twenty-one and two-thirds were twenty-five or younger. This shows that addiction to marijuana is primarily a problem with our young people.” (6)
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a million more young people needed treatment for addiction but they didn’t get it. (7) Marijuana is the top drug by far that sends people to rehab, with alcohol in second place.
“I go from school to school, educating kids on the damage done by smoking marijuana,” added Mr. Bylsma. “They don’t realize that using marijuana results in less motivation, interest in goals or ability to concentrate. (8) When they are well-informed, they can make a better decision.”
Mr. Bylsma’s anti-drug curriculum is based on the drug prevention lessons published by Narconon, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of substance abuse and addiction. “Young people are the only ones who can decide not to use drugs when that joint, pill or drink is handed to them,” he said. “By using the Narconon curriculum, I don’t have to tell them that they should not do drugs, I can educate them on the damaging effects of drug abuse and give them what they need to make the right decision. The Narconon curriculum has proven to be successful in reducing substance abuse among children in trials in Oklahoma and Hawaii – that’s why I use it.” (9)
For more information on the Narconon drug education curriculum or Drug Prevention and Education California, call 1-800-775-8750.