A new survey of the nation’s 8th, 10th, and 12th graders shows an increase in the number of students who do not view regular marijuana use as harmful. Dale Woolery, Associate Director of the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy, says he troubled but not surprised by the findings.
Woolery says youth are receiving “blurred messages” about marijuana as the drug is “glamorized” in movies and TV shows and several states have passed laws making marijuana use legal. “I think the collective result is that there has been less information about the detrimental effects of marijuana and more information about the potential hope that it can be good or it’s too costly to enforce,” Woolery says.
Although more kids may believe there’s less risk in using marijuana, as opposed to other illegal drugs, Woolery says it’s still a “dangerous, addictive, mind-altering substance.” “When teenagers in particular…think that there’s less risk in doing something, they’re more likely to do it,” Woolery says.
While the National Institutes of Health’s 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey found marijuana use among students is on the rise, it shows decreases in the abuse of pain relievers and synthetic drugs. “That is encouraging,” Woolery says. “We do not have numbers that would substantiate or contradict that in Iowa.” But, Woolery says changes in laws and educational efforts do appear to be reducing the rate of abuse of both prescription and synthetic drugs in Iowa.
Woolery also notes that recent Iowa Youth Surveys have shown slight decreases in marijuana use among the state’s youth.
National Institutes of Health’s 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey