In spite of propaganda-fueled concerns that with the increased availability of marijuana will come an influx in teenage use and addiction, new federal data released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests that the youth of America is actually using fewer recreational inebriants than in the past decade.
According to statistics from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, although marijuana is gaining momentum in the legal sector, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 are not using as much of it as they were at the turn of the millennium. What’s more is these kids have supposedly pulled in the reins on their alcohol and tobacco consumption as well, perhaps signifying the uprising of a clear headed society?
Well, while inhaling is encouraged, we would not suggest holding your breath for the sobering of America. Although it is encouraging to hear fewer young people are gravitating towards the use of intoxicating substances, legal or otherwise, than in recent years, there is always some question regarding the validity of any research published by the federal government. In this case, for example, Uncle Sam appears hell bent on convincing the flock that their efforts to protect the nation’s children from the perils of drug addiction is on point.
“The 2013 NSDUH results suggest that the Administration’s efforts to reduce drug and alcohol use among young people is working,” the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement.
Nevertheless, this data may also provide marijuana advocates with highly regarded national data that could help persuade state lawmakers across the country to move ahead with proposals to legalize the leaf in their neck of the woods. Many legislators are hesitant to back any measure to make pot legal over fears that, in doing so they will cause a “declining perception of risk” and in turn breed an epidemic of schoolyard stoners faster than the spread of Black Death.
However, the latest data discounts this theory by indicating that while the perception of risk continues to decline, teenage pot use over the past ten years remains virtually unchanged. This phenomenon has drug policy experts squashing the notion that relaxed attitudes towards marijuana leads to increased use among teenagers.
“One question that might be asked is how long the idea that adolescent cannabis use is driven by risk perception can survive the fact that risk perceptions have been falling, but prevalence hasn’t been rising,” said Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA.
Interestingly, the survey points out that teenagers are finding it more troublesome to get their hands on weed than they did a decade ago. This shows that efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use has not, in any way, made cannabis more readily available to children — if anything, it has diminished the amount of black market pot being distributed in the city streets.
In conclusion, the survey suggests that the increasing popularity of marijuana among the general public has not provoked a plague of addiction and downtrodden, as some recent studies have insinuated. In fact, only 1.6 percent of the American youth, 12 and older, are qualified as being at risk for becoming dependent on weed – a statistic that has remained consistent since 2002.
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