HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Teens Say Buying Dope is Easy
Pubdate: Tue, 20 Aug 2002
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Associated Press
Author: Greg Toppo


WASHINGTON (AP) - Few teenagers say they've tried marijuana, but teens say
it's easier to buy than cigarettes or beer, according to a national survey.

More than one-third of teens polled by the National Center on Addiction and
Substance Abuse said they could buy marijuana in just a few hours, 27
percent in an hour or less.

For the first time since the study began in 1996, marijuana edged out
cigarettes and beer as the easiest drug for teenagers to buy - 34 percent
said it's the easiest of the three, compared with 31 percent for cigarettes
and 14 percent for beer.

Overall, however, 75 percent of students said they have not smoked

The annual survey of 1,000 teenagers was being released Tuesday. It did not
specify whether drugs are easy or difficult to buy at school, but 63 percent
of students said their schools are "drug-free," nearly double the number who
said the same in 1998.

Joel Willen, principal of Pershing Middle School in Houston, said teachers
and administrators are seeing less drug activity.

"I think the kids are not bringing whatever it is they're doing, if they're
doing it, to school," he said.

The school's drug-prevention programs, such as DARE, are paired with a
get-tough policy on drugs that includes twice-yearly, random locker and
backpack searches by drug-sniffing dogs, Willen said. Students caught using
or selling drugs can be sent to an alternative school or even expelled.

"They know we take a real hard line on drugs," he said.

One in 12 students believes there's a teacher at their school who uses
illegal drugs, according to the survey. A fourth of students said they've
seen illegal drugs being sold at school, but a little more than half said
they'd report someone they saw selling or using drugs, the highest level
since 1996.

Gerald Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary
School Principals, said student drug use has been dropping for the past four
or five years as communities began financing anti-drug programs.

"I think we're starting to see the fruition of some of those programs," he

More than half of students said they don't drink alcohol in a typical week,
and about as many said they have never had a drink.

While one in four pupils said at least one parent smokes cigarettes, 69
percent said they have never smoked.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( news - web sites)
estimates that, by the time they complete high school, 47 percent of
teenagers have smoked marijuana, 24 percent have used another illicit drug
and 81 percent have drunk alcohol. The agency also estimates that 70 percent
have smoked cigarettes.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, based at Columbia
University, polls teenagers on drug use and the presence of drugs in
schools. This year's random telephone survey of students age 12-17 was
conducted Dec. 27, 2001-Feb. 6, 2002, by QEV Analytics. It has a margin of
error of plus or minus 3.1 percent age points.
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