Increasing Marijuana Use in High School Reported

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  Increasing Marijuana Use in High School Reported

Posted by CN Staff on December 18, 2013 at 06:41:36 PT
By Anahad O' Connor 
Source: New York Times 

USA -- A new federal report shows that the percentage of American high school students who smoke marijuana is slowly rising, while the use of alcohol and almost every other drug is falling.The report raises concerns that the relaxation of restrictions on marijuana, which can now be sold legally in 20 states and the District of Columbia, has been influencing use of the drug among teenagers. Health officials are concerned by the steady increase and point to what they say is a growing body of evidence that adolescent brains, which are still developing, are susceptible to subtle changes caused by marijuana.
“The acceptance of medical marijuana in multiple states leads to the sense that if it’s used for medicinal purposes, then it can’t be harmful,” said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which issued the report. “This survey has shown very consistently that the greater the number of kids that perceive marijuana as risky, the less that smoke it.” Starting early next year, recreational marijuana use will also be legal in Colorado and Washington.Experts debate the extent to which heavy marijuana use may cause lasting detriment to the brain. But Dr. Volkow said that one way marijuana might affect cognitive function in adolescents was by disrupting the normal development of white matter through which cells in the brain communicate.According to the latest federal figures, which were part of an annual survey, Monitoring the Future, more than 12 percent of eighth graders and 36 percent of seniors at public and private schools around the country said they had smoked marijuana in the past year. About 60 percent of high school seniors said they did not view regular marijuana use as harmful, up from about 55 percent last year.The report looked at a wide variety of drugs and substances. It found, for example, that drinking was steadily declining, with roughly 40 percent of high school seniors reporting having used alcohol in the past month, down from a peak of 53 percent in 1997. Abuse of the prescription painkiller Vicodin is half what it was a decade ago among seniors; cocaine and heroin use are at historic lows in almost every grade.Cigarette smoking has also fallen precipitously in recent years. For the first time since the survey began, the percentage of students who smoked a cigarette in the past month dropped below 10 percent. Roughly 8.5 percent of seniors smoke cigarettes on a daily basis, compared with 6.5 percent who smoke marijuana daily, a slight increase from 2010.Studies show that the concentration of THC in marijuana, its psychoactive ingredient, has tripled since the early 1990s, and Dr. Volkow said there was concern that the rising use and increased potency could affect the likelihood of car accidents and could lower school performance.“What is most worrisome is that we’re seeing high levels of everyday use of marijuana among teenagers,” Dr. Volkow said. “That is the type that’s most likely to have negative effects on brain function and performance.”A new study published this week by scientists at Northwestern University, which showed what appeared to be lasting brain alterations in people who smoked marijuana as adolescents, has become part of the debate. Using brain imaging scans, the scientists showed that in comparison with young adults who had never smoked marijuana, those who used it daily for about three years as teenagers had differences in structures like the thalamus, globus pallidus and striatum.These regions of the brain may help form a sort of mental notepad, called working memory, that allows people to solve puzzles, remember a telephone number or quickly process other bits of information needed for everyday tasks. Working memory is also a strong predictor of academic achievement in adolescents, said Matthew J. Smith, an author of the study and an assistant research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.The study could not determine whether the structural abnormalities were present before the subjects began smoking marijuana. But it did show that the younger the students were when they started, the greater the alterations. And the extent of those abnormalities was directly linked to how poorly the subjects did on memory tests.One expert who was not involved in the study, Dr. Sanjiv Kumra, the director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, said it was likely that more teenagers would misuse marijuana in the coming years. And that is concerning because adolescence is “a particularly susceptible period of ongoing brain development,” he said.“There is this idea that cannabis is a harmless drug,” he added, “and these findings question that.”A version of this article appears in print on 12/18/2013, on page A20 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Increasing Marijuana Use In High School Is Reported.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Anahad O' ConnorPublished: December 18, 2013Copyright: 2013 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 

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Comment #5 posted by FoM on December 18, 2013 at 17:16:55 PT
Very true.
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Comment #4 posted by Swazi-X on December 18, 2013 at 16:26:46 PT
Subtle Changes?
Sounds to me like 60% of high school students have done their homework if they think cannabis is less damaging than, say, ANYTHING else. The huckster doctors trying to maintain fear in order to justify their own dishonest, arrogant, ignorant stance need to just stfu and listen to these teenagers.It's so refreshing to hear that these government/AMA shills getting paid to parrot decades old lies against cannabis are all of a sudden "concerned" about the "subtle changes" cannabis can have on adolescents. On the other hand, it's strange there's no evidence they're even a little concerned that the anti-depressants they're feeding our kids like candy might be causing the rise in teen suicides, especially since "suicidal thoughts and actions" is a common side effect of them. So common actually, that even our feeble FDA has forced Big Pharma to admit it in the warnings on every bottle.Here's a mini-refresher for you doctors and others "concerned" about cannabis' side effects - cannabis, according to our own government, is a proven neuro-protectant. Neuro=neurons, protectant=protects, brains=neurons. In our simple layman terms, that I'm sure even a doctor can understand, this means cannabis protects brain cells and other neurons.Also - "suicidal actions"=attempted suicide, often successful. One of the side effects of anti-depressants is an increase in the number of suicides in the population that are taking them - like the children and adolescents that have been told to take these poisonous chemicals and do, trusting their parents and doctors to not do them harm. It's a sad thing when a kid commits suicide - to most of us anyway. To Big Pharma and the doctors who prescribe these poisons though, it's just the cost of doing business. Collateral damage, just a "small percentage" of kids who lose their life thanks to "medicine". It's a small percentage - until it's your child.Parents especially are to blame - anyone who blindly trusts doctors without doing their own research is a fool likely to die or have their life shortened by the medical industry while it sucks every possible dollar it can out of them before they go. It's sad when people do this to themselves, but it should be the highest crime when doctors and parents do this to children.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on December 18, 2013 at 07:35:40 PT

Exactly! It blows my mind at how they would object to the decrease in damaging drugs being used by young folks.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on December 18, 2013 at 06:53:21 PT

Excuse Me for not reading the whole article but...
"marijuana is slowly rising, while the use of alcohol and almost every other drug is falling"It sounds like some people would be happier if the use of alcohol, cigarettes, hard drugs etc. would remain high and cannabis use was lower.I'm happy to see the use of booze, cigs and hard drugs lower. It's commendable to keep kids off cannabis but doing it while increasing those other more dangerous and deadly substances is the wrong way.
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