Teens experiment with marijuana for a variety of reasons. Some reasons include peer pressure from friends and/or older relatives, boredom and societal acceptance. As perception of harm decreases, so does the age of first usage. According to the Monitoring the Future (MTF) 2013 survey, slightly more than one-third (36.4%) of high school seniors reported using marijuana in the past year. This makes teen marijuana use its highest in the last 30 years. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is addictive, can lead to failure in school and cause psychosis or panic. There also are numerous studies that identify marijuana as a gateway drug. The research on the harms of marijuana use is hotly debated and has produced conflicting results. However, most can agree that recreational drug use affects the developing brains of young people. Therefore, marijuana is harmful and should not be easily accessible to youth under the age of 21.
Marijuana Use By 12th Graders in the United States Increases Nationally in 2013
[Please click to enlarge. Graph provided by CESAR FAX, Volume 23, Issue 3, University of Maryland, College Park.]
- In 2013, 22.7% of 12th graders reported that they had personally used or knew a friend who had used marijuana in the past month. This is the highest rate since 1999 (CESAR FAX, Vol. 23, Issue 3).
Perceived Risk in Teen Marijuana Use Decreases in 2013
[Please click to enlarge. Graph provided by CESAR FAX, Volume 23, Issue 4, University of Maryland, College Park.]
- In 2013, only 40% of 12th graders perceived great risk from marijuana use. This is the lowest perceived harm since 35% in 1978 (CESAR FAX, Vol. 23, Issue 4).
Two-Thirds of United States Residents Who First Started Using Drugs in the Past Year Began with Marijuana
(ages 12 and older)
[Please click to enlarge. Graph provided by CESAR FAX, Volume 22, Issue 49, University of Maryland, College Park.]
- In 2012, 66% of new illicit drug users reported that marijuana was the first drug they tried (CESAR FAX, Vol. 22, Issue 49).