A new study concludes teens’ perception of the dangers of marijuana is at its lowest level in more than 20 years, prompting federal researchers to warn that the already high use of the drug could increase as more states move to legalize it.
The annual survey released by the National Institutes of Health found that only 41.7 percent of eighth graders believe occasional use of pot is harmful. Roughly 44.1 percent believed that its regular use was detrimental, the lowest rate since 1979.
The government-sponsored study said teens' dwindling concerns about the dangers of marijuana, despite the risks, “can signal future increases in use.”
“We are increasingly concerned that regular or daily use of marijuana is robbing many young people of their potential to achieve and excel in school or other aspects of life,” said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of NIH. She said teens are influenced by whether a drug is legal in some form when deciding to try it recreationally, so in states where marijuana is sanctioned, “the deterrent is no longer present.”
Volkow cited recently published research showing that people who used marijuana heavily before age 18 had impaired mental abilities even after they quit using the drug. According to the studies, those who used cannabis heavily in their teens are into their adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between the ages of 13 and 38.