National Families in Action reports:
California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996. But that did not happen spontaneously. Major investors began pouring money into organizations working to legalize marijuana in the early 1990s, just as marijuana use among high-school students reached its lowest levels since the Monitoring the Future survey began in 1975.
In 1991, 3% of eighth-grade students, 9% of tenth-grade students, and 14% of twelfth-grade students used marijuana in the past month. Today, eighth-grade use has doubled (7%), and tenth- and twelfth-grade use (15% and 21%, respectively) has nearly doubled. What made that happen?
Legalization proponents have hammered home the idea that marijuana is A) medicine and B) harmless. As increasingly more states have passed legislation based on these ideas, young people have gotten the message. Some 79% of high-school seniors believed smoking marijuana regularly was harmful in 1991. Today, only 32% do, the fewest since the survey began. Similar declines in belief in harm have occurred among younger students as well.
The 23 states that legalized marijuana as medicine gave birth to a commercial marijuana industry which creates and promotes products, including marijuana-infused foods, that appeal to teenagers. “Nugtella,” pictured above, is just one example. Others include marijuana-infused, multi-flavored “soft” drinks, gummi bears, and lollipops.
Says Stu Gitlow, MD, immediate past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and science advisory board member of SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuana, in a press release about the survey SAM issued this morning, “Medical research is very clear that marijuana is both addictive and harmful. One in six adolescents that use marijuana develop an addiction, and use is associated with lower IQ, lower grades, and high dropout rates in that same population.”
Which makes all the more disturbing another finding from the survey: 1 in 16 high school seniors uses marijuana daily. At 6%, seniors’ daily marijuana use is now higher than their daily cigarette use (5.5%) and daily alcohol use (2%).