The good news: Binge drinking and cigarette smoking is down among teens.  The bad news: They are smoking more marijuana and Ecstasy use is on the rise.  Not the trends that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) was hoping for!  According to their annual report, released today, the number of 8th graders who have used marijuana jumped to 16% from 14.5% last year.  Daily marijuana use increased across all grade levels.  It looks like the messages we’re sending to our youth are working: smoking cigarettes is bad and binge drinking is bad.  Smoking pot, on the other hand, might be good for you if you can get a prescription for it, so no worries there, go ahead and smoke it!

The US Drug Czar, R. Gil Kerlikowske, stated that the legalization of marijuana may be to blame for the increase because this sends a message that pot smoking is not dangerous.  The implication sends kids down the wrong path.  Marijuana is known to interfere with memory and learning which could be serious for teens whose brains haven’t finished growing yet.  No studies have been done yet to determine if an increase in marijuana use correlates with poor test scores but parents get worried enough to test their teens for drug use.  The conflict between telling kids to “Just Say No” and having marijuana dispensaries in the neighborhood is problematic.  It’s like telling your children not to smoke and then lighting up a cigarette.  Looks like we need to stop being hypocrits and do what we tell our teens to do if we expect them to listen.

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