Medical pot laws result in increased teen drug use

WHITE MOUNTAINS – Experts in Colorado are starting to study the impact medical marijuana has had on teen drug use in their state. Medical marijuana sales are scheduled to begin in April in Arizona. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia now have medical-marijuana programs.

Two recently released national surveys, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future data have shown increases in teen marijuana use, marked by a decreased perception of harm in the drug.

“The basic rule with any drug is if the drug becomes more available in the society, there will be more use of the drug,” said Thomas Crowley, a University of Colorado psychiatry professor and director of the university’s Division of Substance Dependence. “And as use expands, there will be more people who have problems with the drug.”

In Colorado treatment centers, clinicians are treating more and more teens for marijuana

addiction since the state legalized marijuana for medicinal use. At the Denver Health Medical

Center, treatment referrals have tripled with 83 percent of the teens that smoke pot daily saying they obtained it from a medical marijuana patient. Navajo County Drug Project (NCDP) tracks youth drug use through the biannual Arizona Youth Survey, conducted by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. In the 210 survey, 29.2 percent of participating Navajo County youth, in eighth to 12th grade reported having used marijuana in their lifetime. This was down from 42.1 percent in 2008 and 29.3 percent in 2006. “These statistics show a steady decline of marijuana use among Navajo County youth,” said NCDP Director Debe Campbell. “We won’t have parallel data until 2012, when we expect to see escalation of use,” she added.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) allocated money for health advocates to study the effects of medical-marijuana policies on broader drug use and public health. NIDA officials decided to offer the funding after seeing a rapid change in marijuana policies across the country.

Source: Jan. 17. 2011

Filed under: Legal Sector,USA :

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