Drug Czar Blames Medical Marijuana for Increase in Teen Marijuana Use <br> DPA Statement: Decrease in Tobacco Use Shows that Education More Effective Than Criminalization
The 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey was released today and found that marijuana use among high-school students is up slightly, with 21.4 percent of high school seniors using marijuana in the last month. The survey queries 50,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders about their drug use and their attitudes toward illicit drugs.
White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is attributing the increase in young people using marijuana on the decreasing perception of the harm of marijuana and that teenagers are starting to think marijuana is medicine. "If young people don't perceive that marijuana is dangerous or of any concern, it usually means that there'll be an uptick in the number of kids who are using it," Kerlikowske told ABC News Radio.
Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
"Opponents of any change in America's failed drug policies always throw out the myth that talking about reform sends a dangerous message to teens. Fifteen states (plus Washington, D.C.) have legalized marijuana for medical use and 13 states have decriminalized marijuana for personal use. Decades of research have consistently demonstrated that marijuana use rates in those states go up and down at roughly the same rates as in other states.
The truth is that drug use rates fluctuate all the time and this fluctuation rarely has anything to do with what politicians are debating. Studies around the world have found that the relative harshness of drug laws matters surprisingly little. After all, rates of illegal drug use in the United States are higher than those in Europe, despite our more punitive policies.
Look at U.S. tobacco policy. Both teen and adult tobacco use is at record lows and we are achieving that without criminalization and mass arrests. And because it is legal the government can control, regulate and tax it – unlike marijuana or other prohibited drugs.
The U.S. made almost 860,000 arrests for marijuana last year, including 760,000 arrests for mere possession, yet teen marijuana use is on the rise. The moral of this story is that a public health approach and honest drug education works — and criminalization doesn't."