Cannabis Prohibition Does Not Protect Youth; Lessons In Tobacco Policies

Dear Wall Street Journal Editors,
The headline alone provides sufficient irony “Marijuana Use Rises Among Teens; Cigarettes Smoking Lowest Since ’75,” in that the long-stated goal of the federal government’s so-called anti-drug bureaucrats has been to reduce the use of cannabis consumption in America. Billions of taxpayer dollars and 20 million cannabis-related arrests later, the social data continues to consistently demonstrate the government achieving one stated goal–the reduction of tobacco use–but not significant reductions in cannabis use among teens?
What is the lesson here?
That with tobacco, the world’s most death-inducing and addictive drug, verifiable and credible health information (along with progressive, teen-deterring, but not black market-inviting taxes imposed by local and federal governments) have a better chance of achieving the federal government’s stated and laudable goal of reduced teen use–not criminal sanctions and prohibition laws.
Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director NORML/NORML Foundation

WSJ: Marijuana Use Rises Among Teens; Cigarette Smoking Lowest Since ’75
Marijuana use among teenagers increased this year after previous declines, while the use of other illicit drugs like cocaine mostly declined.
According to an annual National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded survey of nearly 47,000 students, almost one-third of 12th-graders and more than one-quarter of 10th-graders reported using marijuana in 2009. Almost 12% of eighth-graders reported marijuana use, an increase from about 11% in 2008.
The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, asked teenagers to report on the use of smoking, alcohol use and drug use, including non-medical uses of prescription painkillers and over-the-counter cold and cough products.
The report showed cigarette smoking was at the lowest point since the survey started in 1975, although the use of smokeless-tobacco products increased on some measures this year.
Researchers say the percentage of students who reported ever trying cigarettes has fallen dramatically.
Daily cigarette use by 12th-graders was 11.2%, a slight drop from 11.4% in 2008, while any use during the past 30 days was 20.1%, also a slight decline from 2008. Smokeless-tobacco use during the past 30 days in 2009 was reported by 8.4% of students in 12th grade, up from 6.5% in 2008.
Researchers said one of the reasons smoking rates have declined is that the percentage of students who reported ever trying smoking has “fallen dramatically.” For example in 1996, 49% of eighth-graders reported trying cigarettes, compared with 20% this year.
Alcohol use stayed about the same last year, with more than half of 10th-graders and about two-thirds of seniors reporting alcohol use in the past year.
The survey showed past-year use of cocaine decreased to 3.4% from 4.4% in 2008 among 12th-graders, along with declines in the use of hallucinogens and methamphetamine.
The use of over-the-counter cold and cough medicines to get high, however, edged up among all age groups, with 6% of 10th-graders reporting non-medical use of the products last year.
The annual survey also found continuing high rates of prescription-drug abuse, with almost 10% of 12th-graders reporting non-medical use of the painkiller Vicodin last year, the same rate as 2008. Almost 5% of high-school seniors reported using OxyContin for a non-medical use in 2009, a slight uptick from 2008.
Researchers said 66% of teens reported obtaining the prescription drugs from a friend or relative, while 19% said they received the drugs with a doctor’s prescription, and 8% said they bought the drugs from a dealer.

0 thoughts

  1. All you NORML moms out there dont forget to push this statistic as evidence of how Regulation & Education work better than Mass Incarceration & Criminalization.

  2. It’s not the fact that the federal government is failing with the war on drugs that will bring about change in policy, it’s the fact that they are fully aware of this and continue to do so anyway to protect vested interests.

  3. Mmmmm… Coffee and cannabis is a nice start to the day. I like a C. Sativa strain with my joe.
    I also like a glass of red wine with a C. Indica strain on certian evenings, especially around the holidays… front of a warm fire….man that’s treat! Red and green;) very festive.
    RE:#47 It’s more like blind fear. Most parents don’t make the connection between modern prohibition and alcohol prohibition mostly because they grew up in this one so they aren’t seeing with their own eyes the changes it has brought about. Add that to all of the propaganda spewed by the industries and agencies that depend on prohibition for the bulk of their income and it makes for a very good blinding agent.
    I don’t know, maybe people were smarter back then or maybe since alcohol is a more commonly used drug it was easier to see the effects of that prohibition.

  4. # 42 – During the campaign to legalize Cannabis out in the West there will be many cronnies claiming to support Cannabis but , actually are not supportive at all . Many will come & lie and deceive many in an effort to prevent the legalization
    of Marijuana .
    Be aware of these things .
    You have’nt seen nothing yet . Just wait a few months prior to the election. That’s when these cronnies will start coming out of the woodwork .

  5. i feel that cannabis should be legal at twenty one because, if you work things right with your children, they will want to get out on their own when they’re outta high school. that will give them a couple years to get a taste of what a responsible life will consist of and, with a little coaching from us responsible parents(right folks?) then, hopefully, they will have a reasonable sense of judgement concerning the use of the remedy. i dont mind if my younge adults use cannabis at all. i do mind if they are buying it instead of makin ther rent an grocery pymnt. would you all feel that to be reasonable?

  6. #48 Darrell Kilgore Says:
    December 17th, 2009 at 8:06 pm
    Cannabis,Camping,Coffee. The 3 C’s. Legalize
    Yes that puts a smile on my face just remembering days when I did that. The 3C’s.

  7. #47 Mike I couldn’t have said it better. I have kids that are both 26 and one smokes and one doesn’t.It was their choice .


  9. I live in a small town in the Upper peninsula of Michigan and I can attest to how the crackdown on Marijuana here has driven a very significant number of teens to “pill popping”. The crackdown on marijuana dealers has gen Vicodin at US$1.00 per 100 mg’s. So a 750mg ES Vicodin can go for US$7.50 per pill although with the economic crunch it seems to have fallen to US$6.00 per pill.
    I would say it baffles me that our government can’t see the benefits of making marijuana legal, But I know they do, I also know that the almighty dollar padding the pockets of the politicians by the pharmaceutical companies plays a major role here.

  10. Oh yeah, and I looked this up, it only takes $8,100 dollars and 750,000 signatures to get on the presidential ballot. I am sure that there are 8,100 members who could sacrifice a dollar, and I would be willing to help collect petition signatures!! NOW, who would we put on the ballot??? Win or lose, the media attention would be OUTSTANDING!!!

  11. CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Tennessee investigators say a 4-year-old boy was found roaming his neighborhood in the night, drinking beer and wearing a little girl’s dress taken from under a neighbor’s Christmas tree.
    The child’s mother, 21-year-old April Wright, tells WTVC-TV the boy “wants to go to jail because that’s where his daddy is.” Wright says she and the boy’s father are going though a divorce.
    The boy, found outside his house in Chatanooga on Tuesday, was taken to a hospital and treated for alcohol consumption.
    Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Janice Atkinson says the incident is being investigated but the department declined to release the report.
    The boy’s mother says she met with child protective services and was told she will get to keep custody of her son.
    How many 4 year olds do you know that walk down the street smoking cannabis? It`s legal to have alcohol around children. It`s legal to get drunk around children. It`s even legal to purchase alcohol with children present. And when a drunken mother passes out, and her 4 year old drinks Budweiser and walks down the street with a can of Budweiser and breaks into houses they give mommy a parent of the year award…….Now what do you think would happen if the 4 yr. old was found smoking a blunt and breaking into houses?????? They would take the child away from mommy and mommy would go to prison. Good luck NORML. The drunks rule America and they don`t care if babies get drunk or molested. But they sure as hell won`t follow the same rules that cannabis smokers have had to live under for 30 years. Level playing field my ass.

  12. # 61
    You couldn’t of said it better .
    PayPal cut off ties with N.O.R.M.L. because they said they did not want to associate with ” narcotic dealers ” yet , they accept money for the sales of alcoholic beverages and pharmaceuticals which kill and cause more criminal activity than all drugs combined .
    What drugs killed , Michael Jackson ?
    Meg Whitman is behind PayPal and people like the McCains who make their money off pharma and alcohol .
    In California i say , save a child’s life ……………… DON’T VOTE FOR WHITMAN .

  13. 61, That story reminds me of an urban myth surrounding cannabis. Child was denied visitation due to age restrictions in the jail holding the father. Child had been lectured about playing with matches and told he could go to jail etc. Child set fire to neighbor’s house to “be able to see my daddy.” …
    I’m still surprised how often people overlook the fact that a developing mind can still put two and two together. Often in scary ways.
    Further illustration is the fact we have usage increases based on a polling method handed out in schools. What might surprise a lot of parents is that some kids, like their adult counterparts, are actually being more honest these last couple of years about cannabis in general. I’ve been told by teachers that those things come with a huge grain of salt. 1/2 the students laugh at them and basically zero them out, the other 1/2 ensure their results are inflated to say the least. The method is poor for the data collected. To be fair, even the polls showing how adults feel about these taboo subjects is rather spotty as well.
    Your children never have to grow up if you dont want them to. Most can’t even rent cars now until 25 in most instances. (Yes, I know some can get other ‘special insurance’ and rent one anyways but not always.) … So the argument is still whether or not a “developing mind” should be allowed into the military at 18 then if you are concerned about their mental health and development. Those institutions do far more damage than a teenagers dabbling in cannabis.
    While we’re at it. Caffeine is way further up on my list of abused stimulants by teens. Tons more damage done there in habituation use really early on in a developing child’s life.
    You can go too far in protecting people from themselves. Age restrictions are very akin to blue law prohibition. Teens still get alcohol, etc. because of the taboo. In other places where there are minimal restrictions and cultural differences you dont see the teenage masses playing with it in the same numbers.
    I’m just not sure with a change in cannabis law structure that we’ll see a drastic reduction though in teen experimentation with cannabis. I would hope though we would see a reduction in the experimentation with prescription drugs as that market dries up some in the process though. Because that is one black-market that is fueled by prohibitions best efforts.

  14. Just for clarification, the Legal drinking, smoking, or toking age should be 18. Right now it’s 21 to drink, 18 to smoke, and illegal to toke(unless you are lucky enough to live in one of the 13 states with Medical Marijuana laws). Never understood the disparity. If you’re considered old enough to drive, buy cigarettes, or sign up to join the military and go to exotic places, dominate the natives, and kill them, you should be old enough to choose to drink or toke as well.

  15. #22…thank you.
    since i’ve started college in 09, ive taken 3 girls to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. that doesnt include the ones my friends have taken to the hospital. this is what happens when we go way overboard with the drinking.
    since starting college, i’ve fallen asleep on my friend’s couch about ten times due to too much weed. that doesnt include all the pizzas and cookies we have destroyed. this is the worst thing that happens when we go “overboard” with the toking…
    case and point thats all i have to say

  16. a coffee and a joint in the morning is called a wake and bake around here in south mass.i was in the local cvs pharmace and under the sign stop smoking center was several packs of marlboro cigs on display to sister in law told me she is tired of having too smoke out doors.i wanted too say guit but i had too bite my toung.she is antireefer.i never heard anyone say they want too quit reefer but the price is high.

  17. i cant smoke blunts i like my reefer plain.i cant smoke blunts i tried a grape blunty and it tasted purple

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