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2. The Kids Today: Always More Stoned Than Ever
Survey data indicate that almost half of Americans have tried pot by the time they graduate high school. But more powerful than the average teenager's urge to smoke pot is the average drug warrior's urge to warn that more teenagers are smoking pot than ever before. Last May the Partnership at Drugfree.org (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America) announced that "heavy marijuana use" by teenagers was "up 80 percent since 2008." That press release generated stories with headlines like "Study: Teen Marijuana Use on the Rise," "Pot Use Soars Among Teens,Survey Finds," and "Survey: Teen Marijuana Use Surging"—even though the study cited by those articles, the Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey, actually showed that marijuana use by teenagers remained essentially unchanged between 2010 and 2011.
Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske argues that medical marijuana laws and efforts to legalize recreational use encourage teenagers to smoke pot by sending "the wrong message." That theory has never fit the facts very well, whether you look at cannabis consumption trends in relation to the enactment of medical marijuana laws or compare states with such laws to states without them. Now the latest Monitoring the Future Study indicates that marijuana use has declined among eighth-graders and 10th-graders while remaining steady among 12th-graders even as pot tolerance has hit record highs. Conversely, pot smoking by high school students remains substantially below the levels recorded in the late 1970s, when the idea of legalizing marijuana was much less popular.
Next: So powerful you don't even have to take it.