Skip to main content

Latest Drug War Lie: Debating Medical Marijuana Causes More Kids to Smoke Pot

Submitted by smorgan on
New data on youth drug use was released today and, as we've come to expect, the drug warriors would rather lie about it than learn from it. Instead of focusing on the fact that more high school seniors are smoking marijuana than cigarettes (proving what a perfect failure our marijuana laws truly are), the drug czar and his minions tried to claim that debating drug policies causes more young people to do drugs:

The increase of teens smoking pot is partly because the national debate over medical use of marijuana can make the drug's use seem safer to teenagers, researchers said. In addition to marijuana, fewer teens also view prescription drugs and Ecstasy as dangerous, which often means more could use those drugs in the future, said White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske.

The "continued erosion in youth attitudes and behavior toward substance abuse should give pause to all parents and policy-makers," Kerlikowske said. [AP]

Wait, what was that about the medical marijuana debate causing an increase in teen pot-smoking? According to The Associated Press, that's what the "researchers said," but the only reference to medical marijuana in the whole study tells a more interesting story:

Marijuana use began to decline in 1997 among 8th graders and then did the same in 1998 among 10th and 12th graders. The rate of decline was rather modest, however, perhaps due in part to effects of the public debates over medical use of marijuana during that period.

So they never said marijuana use "increased" because of the medical marijuana debate. Not even close. All they did was speculate that a decrease -- which took place 12 years ago – would "perhaps" have been steeper if it weren't for the debate over medical marijuana. I'll give you one guess where I'm about to go with this…

Teen marijuana use declined following the emergence of a national debate over medical marijuana. That's what actually happened and the suggestion that such declines would have been greater if it weren't for marijuana activism is about as logical as arguing that Sgt. Pepper would have been an even better record if The Beatles weren't on acid.

Rates of high school marijuana use had been climbing rapidly until 1996, when California voters legalized medical marijuana, after which point they declined for 10 years straight. Now I'm not saying that the debate over medical marijuana caused a reduction in teen marijuana use, but even if I did, it would still make a lot more sense than what we read yesterday from The Associated Press.

Of course, I completely understand that journalists can’t possibly read and digest a 700+ page report. That's understandable, as is some reliance on press releases when piecing a story together. But if you're getting all your information from the drug czar, you should be awfully careful not to get taken advantage of. A really good sign that you've been completely worked over is if you end up reporting that the legalization debate causes kids to do drugs.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.