Looking back over the past three decades of the Monitoring The Future survey regarding adolescent drug use and associated behaviors, many trends can be seen throughout the years for various substances. In recent years, one dangerous situation evolving is that teen marijuana use continues to rise while their perception of the drug’s risks keeps going down. As you can see from the graph, the last time this happened was in the 70’s.
Having states such as Colorado make personal marijuana use legal has only furthered the trend of acceptance that was initially forwarded by medical marijuana laws. As more states have active marijuana legalization lobbies, more kids around the country will continue to believe the drug is less dangerous than it actually can be.
As the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Dr. Nora Volkow points out, there is a major difference in the level of potency now. THC is the psychoactive component of the drug, and the concentration of it keeps increasing. In 1990 the marijuana in the U.S. averaged less than 3.5 percent THC, while today’s is nearly 15 percent.
We aren’t trying to comment on whether or not marijuana is more or less dangerous than any other legal or illegal substances, or whether it has any medical use, it is merely an observation of trends and statement of effects. For example, solid research has proven that heavy marijuana use at a young age causes a lowering of IQ, and daily users are much less active or driven, on average. Yes, there are always exceptions, but that’s not the point. The point is the message and example we’re setting for our youth, regardless of the drug, that seeking continual gratification or relief from a chemical substance is safe.
The truth is, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of marijuana users who are unable to stop on their own and have lost ambition in life. They need some form of intervention to regain control over their lives. This trend occurring with our youth’s risk perception must be countered with an understanding of all of the problems associated with repeated use of any substance, and therefore whether the drug is legal or not won’t have as much influence on their decision to remain sober.