More Teens Smoking Pot Than Cigarettes

Filed under: In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, Research Reveals: Teens

Cigarette smoking is down among teens, but pot use is up. Credit: Chris Jackson, Getty Images

There's good news and bad news for parents of teens: Your kids are just saying no to cigarettes and binge drinking, but they're saying yes to pot.

Marijuana use among American teens is up, according to a federal 2010 survey on drug use among teenagers, conducted by the National Institute for Drug Abuse.

"These high rates of marijuana use during the teen and pre-teen years, when the brain continues to develop, place our young people at particular risk," National Institute for Drug Abuse director Dr. Nora Volkow says in a statement. "Not only does marijuana affect learning, judgment and motor skills, but research tells us that about one in six people who start using it as adolescents become addicted."

The survey of 46,482 students from 396 schools found that 16 percent of eighth-graders, typically 13 and 14 years old, admitted to using marijuana, up from 14.5 percent in 2009, Reuters reports.

At the same time, while 21 percent of high school seniors said they used marijuana in the past 30 days, 19.2 percent said they smoked cigarettes, the statement says, making it the first time pot use surpassed cigarettes.

Binge drinking, defined as having five drinks or more in a row, was down to 23 percent for high schoolers, from 25 percent in 2009, and 31.5 percent in 1998.

The survey found more than 6 percent of high school seniors use marijuana every day, up from 5 percent last year. More than 3 percent of 10th graders and 1 percent of eighth graders said they used marijuana daily, all increases over 2009, according to the statement.

The results send conflicting messages to teens who may be confused about whether marijuana use is safe and acceptable in states where it is approved for medical uses by a doctor's prescription, the statement says.

"Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame," Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, tells Reuters.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.