While the teen pregnancy rate plummets, American adolescents are occupying their spare time with a different sort of mischief: marijuana smoking. To put it in terms of terrible puns: they may be much less likely to have a bun in the oven, but that doesn't mean that they're not baked.
New data from the University of Michigan shows that while some youthful tomfoolery is on the decline— the drinking of alcohol, for example— puffing of the magic dragon is up sharply. This is the fourth year in a row that pot smokery experienced an uptick, a sharp contrast from the previous multi year decline in the drug's popularity among kids. This year, half of high school seniors reported using marijuana at some point, 40% say they used it within the last year, and about one in four had smoked a doobie in the last 30 days. Young teens were rampant potheads as well, with 1 in 5 eighth graders saying they'd rolled one up and smoked it at some point in the recent past.
Most disturbing to researchers was the prevalence of near-daily or daily marijuana use. According to the survey, 6.6% of high school seniors who responded say that they've lit up 20 or more times in the past month— that's 1 in every 15 high school seniors getting blazed. Experts think that this may be because kids simply don't think that pot smoking is dangerous anymore, that all those unintentionally funny anti-drug ads have failed.
Could the spike in marijuana use explain some of the decreases in other teen behavior we've seen recently? After all, the rate of teen pregnancy dropped 9% this past year, which could be a function of lowered sperm counts as a result of THC or sheer laziness induced by pot. Should we take our pants off? Nah, let's keep watching Cartoon Network. In many American cities, teen participation in crime is down, possibly due to being baked; when you're in the throes of marijuana usage, it's much easier to stay home and invent "pizza scissors" than go out and slash tires.
Whatever's behind the newest old teen drug craze, let's hope some awesome music results from it. Let's get these kids some synthesizers.
Marijuana use continues to rise among US teens, while alcohol use hits historic lows [Monitoring the Future]