Monitoring the Future Survey Finds Cigarette and Alcohol Use at Historic Lows; Prescription Painkillers and Synthetic Marijuana Also Down
DPA Statement: Government Focus Should be on Keeping Teens Safe, Not Political Posturing
The federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse released its annual Monitoring the Future survey today. Cigarette and alcohol use continued their long-term decline, reaching the lowest point since the survey began polling teenagers in 1975. Also notable is the decline in synthetic marijuana use in 2013. The one disappointing finding is an increase in daily use of marijuana by adolescents, which federal drug officials are blaming, in the absence of any real evidence, on advocates of marijuana policy reform.
“I’m concerned to see an increase in daily marijuana use by adolescents. No one wants teenagers ‘waking and baking’ before they go to school,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “But that’s no reason to persist with a prohibitionist marijuana policy that has resulted in over 700,000 people getting arrested each year, enriched and empowered criminal organizations, diverted police from focusing on real crime, and done nothing to make marijuana less available to young people.”
Marijuana's popularity varies over the years for many reasons, continued Nadelmann.
"It's important to keep in mind that marijuana pales in comparison to alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants and pharmaceutical drugs in terms of dangers to young people," Nadelmann said. "Indeed for many young people, the worst consequences of marijuana involve arrest for marijuana possession, not its consumption. The findings from the latest Monitoring the Future survey suggest that young people are avoiding problematic drug use more than ever before.”
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) asserts that the primary measure of the effectiveness drug policies should be the reduction of drug-related harm. In regards to young people, the organization promotes honest drug education while avoiding exaggerated claims and scare tactics. DPA prioritizes reducing the problems associated with drug misuse – such as overdose, addiction and disease transmission – as well as the problems associated with drug prohibition, such as mass incarceration, erosion of civil liberties, and egregious racial disparities in enforcement, prosecution and sentencing.