Pubdate: Thu, 19 Dec 2013
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2013 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Author: Rob Hotakainen, MCT Washington Bureau
Page: 8A



WASHINGTON (MCT) - The Obama administration on Wednesday sounded the
alarm over rising marijuana use among the nation's youth, saying
softening attitudes about the perceived risk of the drug are
responsible for the increase.

Sixty percent of 12th graders do not view regular marijuana use as
harmful, and more than 12 percent of eighth-graders said they had used
the drug in the past year, according to a survey released by the
National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"Making matters worse, more teens are now smoking marijuana than smoke
cigarettes," said Gil Kerlikowske, President Barack Obama's drug czar.
"Well, this isn't a recipe for raising a healthy generation of young
people who are prepared to meet America's challenges."

He criticized the legalization of marijuana in Washington state and
Colorado, calling the plans "a very large social experiment." And he
delivered a clear shot at legalization advocates who argue that
marijuana is safer than alcohol, saying: "For some to say that it is
less dangerous than other substances is a ridiculous statement."

The survey found that 23 percent of high school seniors used marijuana
in the past month, compared with 16 percent who smoked cigarettes.

Among 12th-graders, 6.5 percent said they smoked pot every day, and
more than 36 percent said they had smoked it in the past year. Among
10th graders, 4 percent said they used marijuana daily, with 18
percent reporting past month use, and 29.8 percent said they had used
it in the previous year.

"These are very high numbers, considering that these are kids at
school," said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug
Abuse, which conducts the yearly study as part of a project with the
University of Michigan.

Volkow said this year's survey carried some bright spots: Alcohol and
tobacco use fell, and fewer students said they were using synthetic
marijuana. But the survey cited misuse of prescription stimulants as a
"cause for concern."
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MAP posted-by: Matt