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Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Rise Despite High Arrest Rates
Government Study, Comparing Rates of Marijuana and Alcohol Use, Suggests That Regulation Is More Effective Means of Reducing Teen Use
WASHINGTON - December 14 - Marijuana use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students increased again in 2011, with more American teenagers now using marijuana for the fourth year in a row, according to numbers released today by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan as part of the annual Monitoring the Future survey. In 2011, a lightly larger percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days, while slightly less had used alcohol. Marijuana use continues to rise among youth despite the continued policy of arresting nearly a million people every year for marijuana violations.
“This report, once again, clearly demonstrates that our nation’s policymakers have their heads buried in the sand when it comes to addressing teen marijuana use,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Political leaders have for decades refused to regulate marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers who aren’t required to check customer ID and have no qualms about selling marijuana to young people. The continued decline in teen tobacco and alcohol use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. It’s time we acknowledge that our current marijuana laws have utterly failed to accomplish one of their primary objectives – to keep marijuana away from young people – and do the right thing by regulating marijuana, bringing its sale under the rule of law, and working to reduce the easy access to marijuana that our irrational system gives teenagers.”
Since the survey’s inception, overwhelming numbers of American teenagers have said marijuana was easy for them to obtain. According to the 2011 numbers, the use of alcohol – which is also regulated and sold by licensed merchants required to check customer ID – continued to decline among high school seniors, as did tobacco use.
“Arresting people for marijuana simply does not stop young people from using it, and it never will,” said Kampia. “It is time for a more sensible approach.”