Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that almost 1 in 10 teenagers are smoking pot 20 or more times each month – nearly doubling the 2008 rate of 5%. The study, conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, reports that while teen abuse of harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine has stabilized, and abuse of prescription painkillers has decreased slightly, the rise in marijuana reverses a long decline of the previous decade.
The rise in marijuana use is not only evident in daily users, either. The survey indicates that past-month usage is also on the rise, growing from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent last year. Steve Pasierb, President of Partnership at Drugfree.org, views a laissez-faire attitude among parents as just one of the problems that needs to be addressed in combating the troubling trend. “Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them,” said Pasierb in the Post article. “Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can’t wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy.”
Other findings of Partnership’s study support the “gateway drug” theory – indicating that teens who smoke pot 20 times or more each month are twice as likely to use cocaine, crack or ecstasy than those who smoke less frequently. It also shows that over half of Hispanic teens have used illicit drugs (cocaine, ecstasy) in the past year, compared to 39 percent of Caucasians and 42 percent for African Americans.