Summer time increased use of Marijuana

ONDCP Alerts Parents: Marijuana Use Spikes When School’s Out.  More Teens Try Marijuana During the Summer Than Any Other Time of Year

(Washington, D.C.)—White House Drug Czar John P. Walters warned parents today that first-time marijuana use among teens increases dramatically during the summer. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is a 38 % increase in marijuana initiation during June, July and August, compared to the rest of the year. The survey’s data are taken from the most recent National Survey on Drug Youth and Health.

“It’s a fact that more teens try marijuana for the first time during the summer months. Parents need to be especially vigilant over the next few months and help keep their kids drug-free.” said John P. Walters, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Marijuana use is especially harmful for teens, because their bodies and brains are still developing.”

Having more unsupervised and unstructured time in the summer may trigger teens to take the risk of smoking marijuana. Research shows that unmonitored teens are four times more likely to use marijuana or engage in other risky behaviors. Teens who report they are “often bored” are 50% more likely to smoke, drink, get drunk, and use illegal drugs than teens who aren’t. Teens with summer jobs are also at risk for drug use because of increased disposable income and exposure to older co-workers.

“Parents play a crucial role in keeping their kids drug-free” said Phillippe Cunningham, Ph.D., family therapist at the University of South Carolina. “We know that teens of parents who keep a close eye on them and ask them where they are going, what they’re doing and when they’ll be home, are less likely to use marijuana. Even if your teen is busy with a summer job, keep close tabs on them. This is a risky time of year.”

Research shows that parents are the most powerful influence on their teen when it comes to drugs. In fact, two-thirds of youth ages 13–17 say fear of upsetting their parents or losing the respect of family and friends is one of the main reasons they don’t smoke marijuana or use other drugs.

More teens use marijuana than all other illicit drugs combined. Research shows that marijuana can be addictive and lead to a host of health, social, learning, and behavioral problems at a crucial time in young lives. Shortened attention spans, decreased energy and ambition, depression, suicidal thoughts, breathing problems and exposure to cancerous chemicals are just a few of them. Additionally, the marijuana that teens use today has more than twice the concentration of THC, the chemical that affects the brain, than the marijuana of 20 years ago.

On the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign’s Web site for parents,, adults can learn how to prevent their children from using marijuana. Pointers include setting clear “no-drug rules,” monitoring their teen’s behavior, reserving time for family and encouraging participation in summer activities.

Parents can access a Summer Plan Worksheet that will help them plan activities for the children over the summer, as well as finding a list of supervised summer programs. Parents can also take the “Does Your Summer Plan Stand Up to the Heat?” quiz.

In 1998, with the bipartisan support of Congress and the President, ONDCP created the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, an effort designed to educate and empower youth to reject illicit drugs. Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit community service organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.

For more information on the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, visit


Source: Jennifer deVallance ONDCP, (202) 395–6618 Press Release 13th June 2005

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