Marijuana Becoming Popular Among US Teenagers
A recent US government report reveals that one in 15 American high school students have become so addicted to marijuana that they smoke the drug almost daily. The good news is that usage of cocaine, cigarettes and alcohol has declined among teenagers.
Pot is Popular
Marijuana in fact is more popular than cigarette smoking among American high school students. Most teenagers feel habitual marijuana smoking does not cause any harm. Students are also able to easily access medical marijuana and have become familiar with the effects of this drug.
Is Medical Marijuana the Cause?
Health experts say the increasing popularity of marijuana among teenagers coincides with the wider and easier availability of legal medical marijuana in 16 states including the District of Columbia and Colorado. The study surveyed greater than 46,000 school students and found that 25% had used marijuana in the last year, increasing from 21% in 2007.
Marijuana is a Medicine
Many high school students opine that if medical marijuana is legal and used by patients, then there is no harm in smoking the drug for recreational purposes. In fact, some young adults use medical marijuana cards to obtain the drug which is widely used to treat migraines and chronic pain.
Synthetic Marijuana also Becoming Popular
Another disturbing trend is the increasing popularity of synthetic marijuana, also known as “k2” or “spice” among teenagers. One in nine school students admitted using it last year. Many students use both medical marijuana and its synthetic version. The dangerous effects of K2 and its increasing popularity are also reflected by the rise in the number of calls to poison control centers by users adversely affected by the drug.
Ban Synthetic Marijuana
One main reason for the rising popularity of synthetic marijuana is because it could be bought legally until recently. Many websites, gas stations and convenience stores openly hawked K2 as herbal incense. But, the DEA found many chemicals in K2 to be dangerous and banned them in March. Now, the government is considering legislation to ban synthetic marijuana permanently.
Easy Availability of Drugs
School officials are disturbed by the easy availability of drugs outside schools. Many school students think synthetic marijuana is not dangerous. But, emergency calls to hospitals reveal a different scenario and parents need to become aware of this trend.
Some Good News
Despite the rising popularity of marijuana and its synthetic version, there is some good news in the report. There has been a decline in the use of narcotic painkillers, addictive prescription drugs, tranquilizers, sedatives, OTC cold and cough medications and more dangerous drugs like cocaine and crack. Cocaine abuse especially has dropped sharply among school students compared to the 1980s or ‘90s. But, party drug ecstasy continues to be popular among 12th graders.
Alcohol Abuse Declines
School students are also showing the thumbs down to heavy drinking. In the last 20 years, alcohol abuse has declined by 50% among eight graders, 33% among 10th graders and 25% among 12th graders. Binge drinking has also fallen by 33% among high school students.
Among teenagers, energy drinks such as Red Bull are popular, with about 33% revealing they consume them regularly. In fact about 10% to 20% of school students said they drink these caffeinated beverages almost every day.