Teens are shunning synthetic marijuana but smoking more of the real thing, found a national survey of more than 40,000 children in three grades reported by USA Today. The number of high school seniors who said they used the synthetic drugs dropped sharply from 11 percent in 2012 to 8 percent this year, the Monitoring the Future survey found. A growing number of teens see the drugs as dangerous. Perceptions of marijuana have slid in the other direction as fewer teens see the drug as harmful and more smoke it. In 2013, one in 15 seniors reported using marijuana daily, up from one in 50 in 1993.
Monitoring the Future, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by the University of Michigan, has surveyed high school seniors since 1975. The survey added eighth- and 10th-graders in 1991. Teen marijuana use began increasing in 2008 after a decade of decline. “Young people are getting the wrong message from the medical marijuana and legalization campaigns,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy. “If it’s continued to be talked about as a benign substance that has no ill effects, we’re doing a great disservice to young people by giving them that message.” NIDA Director Nora Volkow said marijuana use at a young age can alter brain development and increase the risk for addiction.