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Teens Rejecting Alcohol, Tobacco; Selecting Marijuana [FEATURE]

The annual Monitoring the Future survey of substance use by eighth, 10th, and 12th graders was released Wednesday, and it shows students are drinking and smoking tobacco at historically low levels, but marijuana use is on the rise. Teen use of other drugs also generally declined, except for a slight increase in use of prescription drugs reported by seniors.

About one-third of seniors reported smoking pot during the past year, up slightly from the previous year. That's well above the 20% who did so in 1991, the nadir for teen marijuana use, but well below the more than 50% who did so in 1979, the apex of teen marijuana use. The number of seniors reporting annual pot use has been creeping up slightly since about 2007.

Federal drug war bureaucrats bemoaned the uptick in teen pot smoking at a Washington, DC, press conference rolling out the research results, but marijuana law reform activists had a different take on the numbers and what they mean.

Daily tobacco smoking by teens was down by 50% compared to the mid-1990s, while adolescent binge drinking had declined by 25% since 1997. About 10% of high school seniors reported daily cigarette smoking and about 20% reported smoking within the last month, down 40% from 1997. At all three grade levels, more students smoked pot in the last month than smoked cigarettes.

"The decrease is very dramatic," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "But despite the dramatic results, the prevalence of teen smoking and drinking is still high, so we can't become complacent. The troublesome news is that marijuana use has been trending upwards in the last few years. We've seen a significant decline in the perception that marijuana is risky. Fewer kids see smoking marijuana as having bad health effects."

While careful to point out that responsible marijuana reform activists do not encourage teen substance use, Mason Tvert, head of the activist group SAFER (Safe Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation) and coauthor of Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? dared to suggest that young people who do use drugs are making smarter choices about which drugs they choose to use.

"We're always concerned about young people using drugs, but it's clear that more young people are understanding that marijuana is a less harmful substance and making that choice," said Tvert. "While we certainly don't want to promote marijuana use among minors, this report suggests they are making the safer choice to use marijuana rather than alcohol."

Tvert attributed both the rise in teen use and the decline in their perceptions of marijuana's risks to their increasing exposure to knowledge about marijuana.

"Ultimately, people are hearing more and more about the facts surrounding marijuana, and as they continue to hear that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, that it doesn't contribute to violence, that there is no danger of a deadly overdose, they are increasingly more comfortable making that choice."

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske used the Wednesday press conference to blame medical marijuana for the rise in teen pot smoking. 

"These last couple years, the amount of attention that's been given to medical marijuana has been huge," he said. "And when I've done focus groups with high school students in states where medical marijuana is legal, they say, 'Well, if it's called medicine and it's given to patients by caregivers, then that's really the wrong message for us as high school students.'"

While Volkow and Kerlikowske lauded the use of prevention campaigns in reducing teen smoking and drinking, they did not say why such a strategy was not appropriate for marijuana, nor did they break with the prevailing prohibitionist approach to marijuana.  That led to criticism from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

"This report, once again, clearly demonstrates that our nation's policymakers have their heads buried in the sand when it comes to addressing teen marijuana use," said Rob Kampia, MPP executive director. "Political leaders have for decades refused to regulate marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers who aren't required to check customer ID and have no qualms about selling marijuana to young people."

"The continued decline in teen tobacco and alcohol use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people," Kampia continued. "It's time we acknowledge that our current marijuana laws have utterly failed to accomplish one of their primary objectives -- to keep marijuana away from young people -- and do the right thing by regulating marijuana, bringing its sale under the rule of law, and working to reduce the easy access to marijuana that our irrational system gives teenagers."

"The decline in cigarette smoking is great news -- not just because it's the most deadly drug but also because it reveals that legal regulation and honest education are more effective than prohibition and criminalization," said DPA publications manager Jag Davies. "It's absurd, though, that the survey doesn't also include the fiscal, health and human costs of arresting more than 1.6 million Americans each year on drug charges, including more than 750,000 for marijuana possession alone."

"Rather than measuring success based on slight fluctuations in drug use, the primary measure of the effectiveness of our nation's drug policies should be the reduction of drug-related harm," Davies continued. "A rational drug policy would prioritize reducing the problems associated with drug misuse itself -- such as overdose, addiction and disease transmission -- and the problems associated with drug prohibition, such as mass incarceration, erosion of civil liberties, and egregious racial disparities in enforcement, prosecution and sentencing. Looking at use rates in a vacuum is missing the forest for the trees."

"Arresting people for marijuana simply does not stop young people from using it, and it never will," said Kampia. "It is time for a more sensible approach."

Washington, DC
United States

Obama's Drug Czar Blames YOU for Increased Teen Marijuana Use

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/marijuanamakesyougay-cropped.jpg
Just when you thought the medical marijuana debate couldn’t get any uglier, the Drug Czar shows up at your doorstep demanding to know why you want to drug the children.

One out of every 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a near daily basis, a figure that has reached a 30-year peak even as use of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine among teenagers continues a slow decline, according to a new government report.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, the federal drug czar, said he believed the increasing prevalence of medicinal marijuana was a factor in the uptick. “These last couple years, the amount of attention that’s been given to medical marijuana has been huge,” he said. [NYT]

If you're one of the 4 out of 5 Americans who supports medical marijuana, then he's talking about you. Something teens have been doing for decades suddenly became your fault the instant you expressed sympathy for people who use marijuana to treat illnesses. Your efforts to provide friends and neighbors with fact-based information about marijuana have made the Drug Czar's job very difficult indeed.

“And when I’ve done focus groups with high school students in states where medical marijuana is legal, they say, ‘Well, if its called medicine and it’s given to patients by caregivers, then that’s really the wrong message for us as high school students.’”

That's priceless. I'm sure that's exactly what they said to him. Well yes, Mr. Kerlikowske, sir, ever since Proposition 215 passed when I was 11 months old, I've been struggling to understand the concept of the patient-caregiver relationship in the context of medical cannabis. How can a drug be medicine? Confusion about the matter has forced myself and several classmates to smoke joints after school each day behind the dumpster at Jack-in-the-Box. I can feel it impairing my motor skills, but I'm too addicted to stop.

Seriously, if there's anything confusing young people about this, it's probably the fact that there's a government stooge called the Drug Czar whose job it is to go around refuting common knowledge about marijuana and replacing it with a bunch of dumb propaganda. Ironically, it's the Drug Czar himself who's been telling everyone that marijuana is for partying instead of medical use, so maybe it's his fault when teenagers use pot at parties.

In all likelihood, the situation would improve dramatically if the Drug Czar would shut up and let young people think for themselves. Remember when Bush's Drug Czar was making anti-drug ads that were so bad they caused more teens to try marijuana? Congress pulled the funding for the program and probably saved some people's lives from the sort of dangerous idiocy that anti-drug fanatics will engage in when they think they can do no wrong.

In any case, blaming the medical marijuana debate for anything at all is supremely absurd considering that this debate wouldn’t even exist if the federal government had never waged war on medical marijuana in the first place. Yes, this debate is hot right now. Yes, young people are likely aware of it. But that isn't the fault of patients who need marijuana or the 80% of Americans who support those patients. It's the fault of the lying, intransigent imbeciles who pretended marijuana wasn't medicine and forced the nation to spend decades arguing about one simple irrefutable fact, when we could have spent that time on any number of other things, including designing better drug education for our kids.

Children of the Drug War: Specialty Seminar at the London School of Economics

CODW cover

The Mannheim Centre for Criminology is holding a specialty seminar to mark the publication of Children of the Drug War by Damon Barrett.

When? Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 6 :00-7 :30 pm.

Where? Moot Court Room, 7th floor, New Academic Building, Lincoln's Inn Fields

Chaired by Damon Barrett

Speakers: Jennifer Fleetwood – Mothers and Children of the Drug War : A View from a Women’s Prison in Quito, Ecuador.

Steve Rolles – After the War on Drugs : How Legal Regulation of Production and Trade Would Better Protect Children

Michael Shiner – Taking Drugs Together: Early Adult Transitions and the Limits of Harm Reduction in England and Wales

About the book

Children of the Drug War is a unique collection of original essays that investigates the impacts of the war on drugs on children, young people and their families. With contributions from around the world, providing different perspectives and utilizing a wide range of styles and approaches including ethnographic studies, personal accounts and interviews, the book asks fundamental questions of national and international drug control systems:

•What have been the costs to children and young people of the war on drugs?
•Is the protection of children from drugs a solid justification for current policies?
•What kinds of public fears and preconceptions exist in relation to drugs and the drug trade?
•How can children and young people be placed at the forefront of drug policies?

For further details see http://www.childrenofthedrugwar.org.

About the speakers

Damon Barrett is Senior Human Rights Analyst at Harm Reduction International.

Jennifer Fleetwood Is Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Kent.

Steve Rolles is Senior Policy Analyst at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

Michael Shiner is Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Social Policy at the London School of Economics.

RSVP: If you are planning to attend please let Michael Shiner know (m.shiner@lse.ac.uk)

Date: 
Tue, 11/22/2011 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Location: 
London
United Kingdom

13th Annual Students for Sensible Drug Policy International Conference

Hi David,

I know you're eager for more details about SSDP's 13th Annual International Conference, and since you've been to one of our previous conferences, I wanted to make sure you got first access to vital information about this once-in-a-lifetime event. 

Early bird registration
Register today to take advantage of significantly discounted early bird registration rates. 

  • $45 - Students
  • $65 - Alumni
  • $95 - Non-students

Fees will increase on January 2, 2012. Included in each registration will be four meals (breakfast and lunch will be provided during both days of the conference), a tote bag, name tag and conference program.


Call for session proposals

SSDP wants this event to be the biggest, best conference yet, so we've decided to open a call or proposals for folks like you to come up with ideas for workshops, panels, talks, meetups, or other programming for us to consider including as part of SSDP2012.

More details and proposal submission form here.

Scholarships

Each year, SSDP establishes a scholarship fund to help make it affordable for our student activists to attend our national conference. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our SSDP2012 Scholarship Fund today. Last SSDP conference, we were able to award 165 student scholarships and we hope to be able to help even more this year! 

Students can learn more about scholarship opportunities and how to apply here. 

And more...

Check out the ssdp.org/conference for exhibiting opportunities, sponsoring the event, location information, frequently asked questions, and more.  Details and more information will be posted at ssdp.org/conference as well as on our blog, the Dare Generation Diary. You can also find this event on Facebook. Questions should be directed to conference@ssdp.org.

See you in Denver!

Best,

Stacia Cosner

Associate Director

 

WHO

Hundreds of SSDP chapter leaders, members, alumni, and supporters of drug policy reform from all over the world.

WHAT

SSDP2012: The 13th Annual International Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference

WHERE

Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center
7800 East Tufts Avenue
Denver, CO 80237
Reserve your room using the SSDP discount here.

WHEN

March 24-25, 2012

WHY

To gather hundreds of individuals who know there are alternatives to the failed war on drugs and want to do something about it. The weekend will include expert panels, guest speakers, an awards ceremony, networking events, an alumni reunion, SSDP Congress, and more.

 

 


     

Students for Sensible Drug Policy
1317 F Street NW Suite 501, Washington, DC 20004 - (202)393-5280 - www.ssdp.org

Thanks for your support
You received this email because you are one of more than 100,000 people who support Students for Sensible Drug Policy and subscribe to our e-list. Please help us grow our grassroots movement to end the failed War on Drugs by inviting family and friends to join.

Date: 
Thu, 11/24/2011 - 10:00am - Fri, 11/25/2011 - 4:00pm
Location: 
Denver, CO
United States

Healing & Hope: A Celebration (DC)

Tickets are available for: 

Healing and Hope Logo
On Tuesday, November 1, 2011, the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth will honor individuals whose stories of compassion and forgiveness inspire our work to end the practice of sentencing youth to life without parole.    

Please note:  Tickets will not be sold at the door, you must buy your ticket for this event by Friday, October 21st.

 

November 1, 2011

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM 

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom

700 14th Street NW

Washington, DC 20005

 

Keynote Speaker:  Bryan Stevenson

Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative 

 

Click here for more information.

 

Sponsorships are also available, contact James Puzo at 202-289-4672 or jpuzo@fairsentencingofyouth.org for more information.    

Our gracious honorary committee members include:

Charles Dutton, Emmy Award-winning Actor and Director

Peter Edelman, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center

Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund 

Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

David Keene, Former chair of the American Conservative Union

Laura Murphy, American Civil Liberties Union

Pat Nolan, Prison Fellowship

Dr. Charles Ogletree, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, Harvard Law School

Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Louisiana, 2nd District

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Governor of Maryland and Board member of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Tommy Wells, District of Columbia City Councilman, Ward 6

If you are unable to attend our special reception please consider making a charitable donation to the CFSY.

 

Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth Logo

Date: 
Tue, 11/01/2011 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: 
700 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Linn State Admits They Have No Data to Justify Drug Testing Program

Linn State Technical College
A month ago we noted in Drug War Chronicle that Linn State Technical College in Missouri had instituted a broad drug testing policy of all incoming students, the first public institution of higher education in the country to adopt a suspicionless drug testing policy. The ACLU of East Missouri announced it would litigate to block the program, and asked students at Linn State who were opposed to the program to contact them to be plaintiffs.

Evidently they found some, as an article by Timothy Williams at the New York Times this week reports that ACLU has obtained a preliminary injunction blocking the program. Williams interviewed the lawyer for the college, Kent Brown, who admitted the school had no data to justify or motivate the program :

Q. Did graduates have problems with failed drug tests at their jobs? Is that the reason for this?

A. I probably need to answer that this way: I can’t give you specific examples, but it would not surprise me at all if some students encountered difficulties with drug tests after they graduated. The members of our advisory councils for various programs were some of the initiators of this idea and I doubt they would have brought it up if it hadn't been a problem. We don't have any statistics once they graduate. (Emphasis added.)

And if the school has anecdotal information to motivated the policy, they did not share it with their attorney prior to his interviewing with the media -- with The New York Times of all outlets -- a case that had already hit the media four weeks before Williams contacted them.

It begs the question, did decision makers at Linn State review any hard information about drug testing programs and their track record, or the drug testing issue as a whole, before deciding to drug test all their students and charge them $50 for the privilege too? Does anyone doing drug testing review the evidence?

Location: 
Linn, MO
United States

Film Premiere: The Road to Rehabilitation and Reform (DC)

DC Lawyers for Youth cordially invites you to:

 reelreform.jpg

The Road to Rehabilitation and Reform

October 18, 2011

6:30 PM

GALA Theater at Tivoli Square

In honor of National Youth Justice Awareness MonthDC Lawyers for Youth (DCLY) invites you to a screening of The Road to Rehabilitation and Reform: A short film about DC and its Most-Disconnected Youth. The screening, open to 240 guests, will be held at the GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square on 14th Street and Park Road, NW, Washington, DC 20009.  There will be a short discussion and light reception with the documentary creators about DC’s juvenile justice reform efforts following the film. Come join DCLY and community members to engage in the conversation on how DC can best serve its most-disconnected youth while making our communities both safer and stronger.

To RSVP to the event, please email Angela Massino, DCLY's Fall Communications Fellow, at amassino@dcly.org with your name, organizational affiliation (if any), and number of attendees.  We look forward to seeing you on the Oct. 18th.

Date: 
Tue, 10/18/2011 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: 
3333 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20010
United States

2011 Northeast Regional SSDP Conference

You're invited to the 2011 Northeast Regional SSDP Conference!

  • Date: Saturday, October 1 - Sunday, October 2 
  • Time: 11am-6pm (10/1), 11am-4pm (10/2)
  • Location: Boston University Kenmore Classroom Building
                       565 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, MA 02215
  • Register for FREE here: ssdp.org/events/northeast-regional-ssdp-conference-2011 

This weekend, dozens of SSDPers from across the Northeast region will gather at Boston University for our annual Northeast Regional SSDP conference.  Please join us for two days of networking, learning, training, and other activities that will help strengthen our ability to be effective young drug policy reformers.  Registration is free and lunch will be provided.  Donations will be accepted at the door.  Find this event on Facebook.

Confirmed speakers include:

Rick Doblin: Executive Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Stacia Cosner: Associate Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Jason Ortiz: Regional Outreach Coordinator, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

... and of course many other student leaders and alumni will be there to contribute to the discussion and  share their experiences as well.

See you in Boston on Saturday!

Best,

Jason Ortiz
Regional Outreach Coordinator, Northeast & Mountain Plains Regions
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Date: 
Sat, 10/01/2011 - 11:00am - Sun, 10/02/2011 - 4:00pm
Location: 
556 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

Students Against Mass Incarceration Special Open Mic

One Voice One Sound Presents Students Against Mass Incarceration Special Open Mic

Featuring Howard University performing artists in addition to OneVoice OneSound's Don D, LeftField, Sold D, D Money and others

Add Your Voice to Stop the New Jim Crow

 

September 29, 2011

9-12:30pm

Potter's House

1658 Columbia Rd. NW

Washington, DC

Date: 
Thu, 09/29/2011 - 9:00pm - Fri, 09/30/2011 - 12:30am
Location: 
1658 Columbia Rd. NW
Washington, DC
United States

Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed around 40,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/wanted1.jpg
US Embassy in Mexico cartel wanted poster
Thursday, August 25

In Monterrey, 52 people were killed when suspected Zetas ignited gasoline at the entrance to the Casino Royale. As of August 31, twelve people are in custody for the attack. Many of those killed died of smoke inhalation after fleeing to offices and bathrooms in the interior of the casino.

Although the exact motive is yet unknown, police are investigating the possibility that the casino was attacked after having refused to pay protection money to the Zetas. Another possibility that has been floated in the Mexican press is that the casino was used to launder money for a rival cartel.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the former police chief of the town of Columbus pleaded guilty to conspiracy, smuggling, and public corruption charges. Angela Vega was arrested in March along with the town's mayor and 13 others. The group is known to have trafficked at least 200 weapons to La Linea, the military wing of the Juarez Cartel.

Friday, August 26

In Michoacan, wanted posters were put up by the Knights Templar Organization. The banners, which show the mugshots of five men the names of six men said to now be working for the Zetas, offered rewards of between $100,000 and $500,000 as well as a phone number to call.

Sunday, August 28

In Almoya de Juarez, near Mexico City, authorities discovered the decomposed bodies of five individuals buried in a corn field. The discovery was made after a family member of a missing man received a phone call from an unidentified man who said that 23 people were buried in the field. The other 18 remain unaccounted for.

Monday, August 29

In Acapulco, at least 140 local schools were closed after teachers refused to go to work because of extortion threats. School had just begun one week prior. Teachers indicated that at least four teachers had been kidnapped in the past eight days, and cars full of armed men were seen cruising past at least one school.

In Tamaulipas, authorities announced that a top Gulf Cartel commander was among several cartel members captured in the town of Camargo over the weekend. Abiel Gonzalez Briones, "R-2," 28, was captured after an aerial patrol spotted a group of armed men, at least seven of whom were captured. Gonzalez Briones is thought to have been a main financial operator of the Gulf Cartel and the area chief for the Miguel Aleman area.

In the mountain town of Guachochi, Chihuahua, seven bodies were discovered by the army. They had all been missing since August 13. Of the dead, six were strangulated to death, and the seventh, a woman, was shot. Additionally, near Ciudad Juarez, five human skulls thought to be several years old were discovered.

Tuesday, August 30

In Utah, authorities announced the dismantling of a Sinaloa Cartel cell. At least 30 people have so far been taken into custody after an 18th month investigation, which led to the discovery of several high-level men described as being "command and control" for the the cartel in Utah. At least 30 pounds of meth, 2.5 of heroin were taken into custody, as well as cash and high-powered weapons.

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx.): 4,300

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2009 (approx.): 9,600

Total Body Count for 2010 (official): 15,273

Total Body Count for 2011: (approx.): 6,700

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