New Data Cast Further Doubt on Drug Czar's Theory That Marijuana Reform Makes Kids Smoke Pot


For years drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has argued that laws allowing medical use of marijuana and efforts to legalize recreational use encourage teenagers to smoke pot. According to Kerlikowske, it is irresponsible even to advocate less punitive, more tolerant marijuana laws because such talk sends "the wrong message" to the youth of America. That tale 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. The latest data from the government-sponsored Monitoring the Future Study cast further doubt on Kerlikowske's theory, indicating 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.

In the 2012 survey, 6.5 percent of eighth-graders admitted smoking pot during the previous month, compared to 7.2 percent last year and 8 percent in 2010. Past-month use by 10th-graders fell from 17.6 percent to 17 percent (still a bit higher than the 16.7 percent recorded in 2010). Among seniors, this number rose slightly, from 22.6 percent to 22.9 percent, a difference that was not statistically significant. "After four straight years of increasing use among teens,"  say the University of Michigan researchers who conduct the survey, "annual marijuana use showed no further increase in any of the three grades surveyed in 2012." Maybe the upward trend will resume next year, after the kids digest the wrong message sent by the legalization of marijuana (for adults 21 and older) in Colorado and Washington.

More bad news for drug warriors and their panic-promoting pals in the press: The share of high school seniors who admitted consuming synthetic marijuana in the previous year remained steady (at 11.3 percent); the percentage of students reporting any use of the synthetic stimulants known as "bath salts" was "very low"; and use of Salvia divinorum fell in all three grades covered by the survey.

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  1. I know legalization of pot affects MY desire and plans to smoke it. But I’m 50 – way past teen. Too old to rock and roll, too young to die.

    But will still imbibe in the herb if presented with an opportunity.

    1. I’m pretty sure you’re never too old to rock and roll.

      1. “I don’t need no instructions…to know how to rock!”

        1. “You cannot heat up our moon juices”

      2. You’ll never convince Ian Anderson.

        1. OT: Several years ago I went with my in-laws to some concert put on by a local classic rock station, and Jethro Tull was the headliner. I thought it was a lot of fun, until my MIL became HYSTERICAL because she was hammered and got it into her head that Ian Anderson was (and I’m not joking or exaggerating here) The Devil. As in, Satan was here on earth and playing the flute before our very eyes. She was so upset that she HAD to leave immediately. Her sister was quite annoyed by this, since she loves Jethro Tull, and so the following Christmas my husband and I gave her the Jethro Tull Christmas album as a joke, which she immediately started playing, just to get her sister riled up again. Which she did.

          To this day, MIL still believes Ian Anderson is Satan.

    2. I’d recommend inhaling or eating it. Unless you are into Bhang.

        1. Well, yeah. I stick by my recommendations, though.

  2. NewAll Data Cast Further Doubt on Drug Czar’s Theory That Marijuana Reform Makes Kids Smoke Pot.

  3. Reality is negotiable. Dogma isn’t.

  4. I was having this discussion on air with Rusty Humphries and had to explain to him that marijuana is not a gateway to other drugs, it’s a gateway to the black market.

    It’s not like the guy at the liquor store will ever say “I’m out of booze, would you like some cocaine?” (sometimes I wish he would)

    When sold legally marijuana is no longer a gateway to anything.

    Besides that, drug dealers don’t ask for ID.

    Dunno if it sunk in or not. He seems to believe that externalities outweigh self-ownership.

    1. Are you OK? After a talk with that jerkwater, I’m concerned for your well being.

      Maybe take a couple days off and relax – just to ensure you didn’t suffer any brain damage from teh stoopid.

    2. “marijuana is not a gateway to other drugs, it’s a gateway to the black market”

      Perfectly succinct. I’ve tried to explain this to people; this is a good one-liner to start with.

      Predictably, people who think pot is really scary, don’t see the argument. People who think pot is relatively innocuous, get it right away.

      Logic and reason aren’t the primary drivers, here, I don’t think. I’m not sure how to get people to agree with us emotionally. That does seem to be the key to political success, though.

    3. Besides that, drug dealers don’t ask for ID.

      And you probably like that don’t you? You sick fuck. Once they legalize pot there will be drug dealers across the street selling pot to school children. They are doing it right now with alcohol and cigarettes and pornography. And in your libertopia that will be fine huh? And who will make money from selling pot to school kids if it is legal? Rich corporations that control the pot market! You people are sick America is sick!

    4. Perhaps I’m in the definite minority, but I’ve never felt any desire to smoke marijuana or do any sort of drug, and not at all because those things are currently illegal.

      1. Is it because you’re a nerd?

      2. *crosses ASM off ‘potential party friend’ list*

        1. Fuck that. You always need sober friends to make grocery runs.

          1. So that’s why people always remind me to make sure my tank is full before I get to the party.

          2. Look, if you don’t stock up beforehand you’re being stupid. Besides, that’s what delivery is for.

      3. I think that some people are just naturally inclined to seek amusing intoxicants and some aren’t.

      4. Do you drink caffeinated drinks? Do you consume alcohol?

        Sorry to be somewhat pedantic, but unless you are a full practicing Mormon and have done none of the above as well you have still consumed drugs. The key is that the government shouldn’t be the ones to decide which drugs are “perfectly safe” and which ones are actually dangerous.

        1. It is a silly distinction. Especially with Alcohol, which is way more like a hard drug than pot is.

          I had a friendly aquaintance in college who didn’t smoke pot or tobacco or do any other kinds of illegal drugs. But he did drink. One night someone asked him why he didn’t do drugs. His response was to hold up his 40 oz and say “what do you think this is?”

          1. The correct answer is: “A beverage”

            1. Correction: that is a correct answer.

          2. Oh come on now, using outrageous and plainly delusional statements like that.

            Pot is for one thing, to get high!

            On the other hand, some more educated people like myself, just like to ‘taste’ a little wine. No one just tastes pot! They get high, they are druggies!

            Ok, sometimes I taste an entire bottle of wine, or maybe 3, but it is still just tasting! It’s not like I am just trying to get a buzz! This makes all the difference, don’t you see?!!

            1. I have at least one friend who likes to taste pot, but doesn’t particularly like to get high.

              It is funny to watch people try to seriously make that argument, though.

    5. You are dead-on about the black market. There is also the DARE component for the younger generation. Since they are told marijuana is just as dangerous as cocaine or heroin, but will be much more likely to encounter it and not be harmed, they figure everything DARE told them was a lie.

      The gateway argument is a curiously twisted form of correlation fallacy, usually in the form of “almost all users of cocaine/heroin/LSD first smoked pot!” OK. I bet they all cleaned their ass with toilet paper at some point too? Is toilet paper a gateway to heroin?

      1. SugarFree – drugs are BAD, m’kay?

        Toilet paper’s OK. M’kay?

        1. A generation of kids taught to shit in the yard and use leaves.

        2. Toilet paper is abrasive to tender tissues; not so OK.

      2. “You might just as well say,” added the Dormouse, which seemed to be talking in its sleep, “that ‘I breath when I sleep’ is the same thing as ‘I sleep when I breathe’!”

    6. I think it’s a gateway to both. If it were a gateway to only the black market, then it’d be like, “I’m out of marijuana, would you like some bootleg video or illegal fireworks? I’m sure there is some of that effect, but also, “I’m out of marijuana, would you like some tobacco or liquor?” It was said around here some years ago — and I believe it — that marijuana was a gateway to tobacco.

  5. Allowing people to make their own choices sends the wrong message that people are allowed to make their own choices.

  6. It really can’t ever be pointed out enough that anybody who heads up the ONDCP can’t be taken seriously. After all, part of the job description is to lie to us if it will reduce drug use.

    1. After all, part of the job description is to lie to us if whether or not it will reduce drug use.


  7. Do you think the Bad Idea t-shirt girl smokes?

    1. Oh hellz yeah. The whole bag. She’s a freak, I have no doubt.

    2. Yeah, but a note to their marketing guys…



  8. Weed makes me constipated *sad face*

    1. Eat the seeds & stems for fiber.

    2. Go on, JJ…

    3. You’re doing it wrong?

      1. He kept confusing the tab with the scare story about kids smoking weed with the scare story about kids buttchugging.

        On the plus side, he never has to shave his taint again.

  9. and use of Salvia divinorum fell in all three grades covered by the survey.

    Salvia divinorum: You Only Have To Try It Once

  10. Gil Kerlikowske continue sto be the embodiment of evil. Gil Kerlikowske is a piece of human garbage.

  11. Thats like totally off the chain dude. Wow.

  12. I think what Kerlikowski’s saying is true, just that its effects are of lesser magnitude than he implies. You won’t see it in state-by-state comparisons, because the promotion effect transcends geography. I have no doubt that, for instance, Dutch tolerance of cannabis use encourages its use everywhere in the world that Dutch tolerance of it is known about. However, other factors influencing its use are greater.

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