HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Occasional Marijuana Use 'Does Not Harm Teens':
Pubdate: Tue, 6 Nov 2007
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2007 West Australian Newspapers Limited

Bookmark: (Marijuana - Popular)


Swiss teenagers who sometimes smoke marijuana don't appear to have 
higher rates of "psychosocial problems" than those who abstain, 
according to a study published today in the Archives of Pediatrics 
and Adolescent Medicine.

"Those who use cannabis sometimes do better than we think," J.C. 
Suris, the study's author, said in an interview. Light users of 
marijuana "don't have great additional problems. They are kids who 
function well."

There's no question that heavy use of marijuana does hurt, said 
Suris, who, along with colleagues at the University of Lausanne in 
Switzerland, conducted surveys of 5,263 Swiss students in 2002.

The study also found that teenagers who smoke both marijuana and 
cigarettes have a higher potential for problems than those who use 
only cannabis. A common theory is that cigarette smoking is an early 
indicator of cannabis use, the report said.

"Among cannabis users, non smokers seem to have fewer problems than 
regular smokers," the report said. "Smokers were significantly more 
likely to be heavy cannabis users than non smokers."

Most of the cannabis-only smokers used the drug only once or twice a 
month, compared with cigarette smokers, who often smoked marijuana 10 
times or more a month, the study said.

The study was conducted on students ages 16 to 20 who completed 
surveys. While teenage exaggerations could have occurred, those 
should be minimal because the surveys were anonymous, the study said. 
School dropouts, who are known to be heavier substance users, weren't 
surveyed, the study said.

About 455 said they only used marijuana, while 1,703 smoked both 
cigarettes and pot. The other 3,105 said they abstained from both substances.

When teenagers who smoke only pot were compared with students who 
used both substances, the cannabis-only students were more likely to 
play sports, 86 per cent versus 67 per cent; live with both parents, 
78 per cent versus 68 per cent; and have good grades, 78 per cent 
versus 67 per cent.

Marijuana-only users, when compared with those who abstained from 
both vices, were more likely to be male, 72 per cent versus 48 per 
cent; to have good relationships with their friends; 87 per cent 
versus 83 per cent; and to play sports, 86 per cent versus 77 per cent.

The pot-only smokers skipped school more often while saying their 
grades were as good as those of students who abstained, the study 
said. The pot-only kids were less likely to have a good relationship 
with their parents, 74 per cent versus 82 per cent for those who abstained.

Unlike in the US, cannabis use has increased in Switzerland and other 
European countries, the report said. Cannabis in Switzerland is 
becoming equivalent to a social event where teenagers might invite 
friends for joints rather than beers, Suris said.

"Nowadays, almost all kids will be offered cannabis," Suris said in 
an interview. He advises parents that if their children try 
marijuana, "don't make it a big fuss. It's part of their learning, 
maybe like alcohol or tobacco was when parents were their age."

What researchers are not clear about is whether poor grades cause 
students to become heavier users of pot or if the marijuana usage 
itself causes the poor grades, he said. Suris said a follow-up study 
should be conducted to find out how the teenagers fared.
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