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Despite Pot Prohibition, Teen Marijuana Use Continues Slight Upward Trend

Marijuana use by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders increased slightly this year, according to figures released Tuesday by the annual Monitoring the Future survey of junior and senior high school students. Meanwhile, the percentage of students who see "great risk" in regular marijuana use continues a slight decline. In both cases, this year's figures reflect a continuation of a trend beginning about five years ago.

More than one in five (21.4%) of high school seniors reported using marijuana within the past 30 days. While that figure is higher than any year since 2002, it is in line with usage rates reported throughout the late 1990s and into the first year of the new millennium. In that period, 30-day usage rates among seniors ranged between 21.2% and 23.7%.

Although the latest teen drug use figures show that teen marijuana use is roughly stable over the past fifteen years, Office of National Drug Control Policy head Gil Kerlikowske was quick to lay blame on "mixed messages" from the effort to end marijuana prohibition.

"The increases in youth drug use reflected in the Monitoring the Future Study are disappointing," he said Tuesday. "And mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana legalization, may be to blame. Such messages certainly don’t help parents who are trying to prevent young people from using drugs."

Drug reform organizations, unsurprisingly, had a different take on the numbers. Both the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) were quick to blame not legalization talk but actually existing pot prohibition.

“It’s really no surprise that more American teenagers are using marijuana and continue to say it’s easy to get. Our government has spent decades refusing 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,” said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. “The continued decline in teen tobacco use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. 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 unfettered access to marijuana our broken laws have given teenagers.” 

“Opponents of any change in America’s failed drug policies always throw out the myth that talking about reform sends a dangerous message to teens," said Bill Piper, national affairs head for DPA.  "Fifteen states (plus Washington, DC) have legalized marijuana for medical use and 13 states have deciminalized marijuana for personal use. Decades of research have consistently demonstrated that marijuana use rates in those states go up and down at roughly the same rates as in other states."

Piper pointed out that the annual gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over miniscule changes in the number of teens smoking pot laws is largely theater. The drivers of drug use are complex and have little to do with the moral crusade of the day in Washington. 

"The truth is that drug use rates fluctuate all the time and this fluctuation rarely has anything to do with what politicians are debating," Piper said. "Studies around the world have found that the relative harshness of drug laws matters surprisingly little. After all, rates of illegal drug use in the United States are higher than those in Europe, despite our more punitive policies. Look at US tobacco policy. Both teen and adult tobacco use is at record lows and we are achieving that without criminalization and mass arrests. And because it is legal the government can control, regulate and tax it – unlike marijuana or other prohibited drugs."

Indeed, teen pot smoking continues its slight upward trend despite the huge number of pot arrests each year—more than 850,000 last year alone.

"The US made almost 860,000 arrests for marijuana last year, including 760,000 arrests for mere possession, yet teen marijuana use is on the rise," Piper noted. "The moral of this story is that a public health approach and honest drug education works — and criminalization doesn’t."

Inquirer Editorial: Sell Drugs Or Go Jobless (Opinion)

Location: 
Philadelphia, PA
United States
The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board opines that many government officials are finally admitting the prohibitionist war on drugs is a costly failure, and that the United States has spent at least $1 trillion on the war on drugs, but the streets of Kensington prove it hasn't worked.
Publication/Source: 
The Philadephia Inquirer (PA)
URL: 
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20101214_Inquirer_Editorial__Sell_drugs_or_go_jobless.html

Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Rise: Report Consistently Shows Prohibition’s Failure to Curb Teen Access to Marijuana; More Teens Say Marijuana is Easy To Get (Press Release)

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

DECEMBER 14, 2010

Teen Marijuana Use Continues to Rise

Annual Report Consistently Shows Prohibition’s Failure to Curb Teen Access to Marijuana; More Teens Say Marijuana is Easy To Get

CONTACT: Mike Meno, MPP director of communications: 202-905-2030, 443-927-6400 or mmeno@mpp.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marijuana use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students increased in 2010, with more American teenagers now using marijuana than cigarettes for the second year in a row, according to numbers released today by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan as part of the annual Monitoring the Future survey. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 30 days, while 19.2 had used cigarettes.

         “It’s really no surprise that more American teenagers are using marijuana and continue to say it’s easy to get. Our government has spent decades refusing 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,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The continued decline in teen tobacco use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. 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 unfettered access to marijuana our broken laws have given teenagers.”  

         Since the survey’s inception, overwhelmingly numbers of American teenagers have said marijuana was easy for them to obtain. According to the 2010 numbers, the use of alcohol – which is also regulated and sold by licensed merchants required to check customer ID – continued to decline among high school seniors.

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Budding Prospects: Youth Activists Push Marijuana Reform

Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and an advisory board member of the Just Say Now campaign, discusses why young advocates of legalization are poised for big gains.
Publication/Source: 
Alternet (CA)
URL: 
http://www.alternet.org/news/149144/budding_prospects%3A_youth_activists_push_marijuana_reform

Mexican Drug Prohibition War Crossfire Kills Baby

Location: 
Apatzingan, MIC
Mexico
An eight-month-old infant was fatally wounded after being caught in the crossfire during a gun battle between police and drug traffickers, authorities and police said. The baby was shot during a gunfight in the town of Apatzingan in the western Mexican state of Michoacan.
Publication/Source: 
Canoe News (Canada)
URL: 
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2010/12/09/16487861.html

Mexican Children Learn to Take Cover in Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Acapulco, GRO
Mexico
Mexican officials are teaching school children how to dive for cover if they come under fire from gangs fighting over the Pacific beach city of Acapulco as drug prohibition violence reaches deeper into everyday life. At a drill in an Acapulco primary school this week, instructors used toy guns that simulated the sound of real gunfire. "Get down, let's go!" shouted an instructor as children threw themselves on the ground in classrooms and the playground and then crawled toward safety, burying their heads in their hands.
Publication/Source: 
MSNBC
URL: 
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40571896/ns/world_news-americas/

Teenage Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization Hitman Is a U.S. Citizen

Location: 
Mexico
The floppy-haired 14-year-old turned, like any other modern teen, to YouTube to make his confession. But unlike a typical 8th-grader, Edgar Jimenez confessed to beheading people for Mexican Drug Traffickers for the price of $2,500 each. Mexican authorities nabbed the "hit boy" known as "El Ponchis" at an airport; he was en route to Tijuana, where he and his teenage sister were planning to sneak into San Diego. Why? He's an American citizen.
Publication/Source: 
The Atlantic Wire (DC)
URL: 
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/opinions/view/opinion/Teenage-Cartel-Hitman-Is-a-US-Citizen-6081

Drug Gang Reportedly Sets Fire to Juárez Kindergarten

Location: 
Ciudad Juárez, CHH
Mexico
A school in Colonia San Antonio was supposedly torched because school staff refused demands for payment made by drug gang extortionists. Classes were canceled indefinitely.
Publication/Source: 
El Paso Times (TX)
URL: 
http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_16794608?source=most_viewed

Attention Students: Start a SAFER Campus Campaign This Spring

The SAFER Campuses Initiative is off to an early start for Spring 2011, and we want to help you get a campaign going on your campus.

We're already helping several campuses get their efforts off the ground, and we'll continue to help them and others work to change campus policies and spark public debate about the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

The goal of the SAFER Campuses Initiative is to work with students at as many schools as possible, so please contact us today to let us know if you are interested in working with us on your campus or at one near you.

Whether you're interested in running a full-blown SAFER campaign, or simply taking action when opportunities present themselves, we want to hear from you!  We will be able to provide you with a great deal of support, including instructions, materials, and direct assistance.

The SAFER movement began just five years ago on two college campuses in Colorado, and since then it has spread across the nation. Now, students at more than a dozen schools, including five of the 15 largest in the nation, have adopted SAFER referendums, calling for reductions in campus penalties for marijuana use so they're no greater than those for alcohol use. At a few of those schools, SAFER campus leaders are now working with administrators to develop and implement policy changes that reflect the student votes. Perhaps most importantly, these efforts have generated significant news coverage and discussion at the campus, local, and even national level.

If you're interested in working with SAFER on your campus or on one that's nearby, please take a minute to check out the SAFER Campuses Initiative website, then send us an e-mail and answer the following questions about yourself and your school so we can get things rolling.

1. What school are you currently attending or interested in working at?

2. Are you a member of a student organization working on marijuana policy reform? If so, which one? If not, are you interested in potentially starting one? (NOTE: being part of or starting a student organization is not required, but can be very helpful.)

3. Anything else that might be of note? A personal story? A particular skill or work/volunteer experience?

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Kids Will See Laughable Drug Video As 'not4me' (Letter to Editor)

Location: 
Canada
Russell Barth of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy opines that Canada's new "drugsnot4me" campaign video is a total embarrassment due to the over-the-top rhetoric which generates fear rather than educates youth.
Publication/Source: 
The Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Kids+will+laughable+drug+video+not4me/3846553/story.html

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