Teenagers regularly smoke cannabis joints more often than cigarettes as marijuana use makes a 'disturbing’ comeback amongst the young, a nationwide study has found.
Some 21% of high school students admitted they had smoked the drug in the last month, compared to just 19% who lit up a regular cigarette.
The figures are the first time since 1981 that cannabis has become more popular than tobacco, with rises across the board including amongst eighth-graders.
Teens prefer smoking marijuana over cigarette
Weed trend: Teens regularly smoke marijuana more often than cigarettes according to a new report released today
They came amid a surprise reduction in binge-drinking suggesting that growing numbers of teenagers are swapping the bottle for a joint.
Experts said the change was because young people today do not consider marijuana to be dangerous and are oblivious to the risks.
They blamed the row over California’s medicinal marijuana Proposition 19 and similar laws in Colorado for sending out 'mixed messages’.
The Obama administration's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, said the 'disturbing’ trends showed cannabis had become a public safety problem.
Teen smoking a cigarette
Lighting up: Experts said the increase in preference of cannabis over cigarettes is because teens don't consider marijuana to be dangerous
'We continue to talk about legalisation of marijuana as if it’s some benign substance,’ he said.
'We continue to talk about the medicalisation of marijuana and of course smoked marijuana is not medicinal.
'When I meet with high school students all over the country it’s a very clear message they’re giving me, and that is that we’re getting the wrong message from adults.
'Smoking marijuana is just not medicine.’
Overall one in sixteen of all U.S. high school students, or 6.1%, now regularly smokes marijuana, up from 5.2% last year.
Daily marijuana use by 10th-graders climbed from 2.8% to 3.3% and for eighth-grade students it went from from 1.0% to 1.2%.
A reveller prepaers marijuana to roll a joint surrounded by cups of beer
Drinks down: The new report also reveals a surprise reduction in binge-drinking suggesting that teens prefer to get high over getting drunk
On the other hand, binge drinking is on the decline - 23.2% of high school seniors reported having five or more drinks in a row, a decrease from 25.2% last year earlier.
The Monitoring the Future survey, released by the National Institute of Health, also looked into a range of other illegal drugs.
It found that the use of ecstasy, which tailed off in the early 2000s, is rising again because younger people are not aware of the risks.
The abuse of prescription drugs remains a pressing issue although there was a small reduction in the numbers using painkiller Vicodin.
Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said cannabis affects learning and memory and can act as a gateway to other more serious substances.
'These high rates of marijuana use during the teen and preteen years, when the brain continues to develop, place our young people at particular risk.
'In clinical studies, epidemiology has shown that those who get exposed to marijuana before age 17 are more likely not just to become dependent on marijuana, but are more likely to become dependent on a wide variety of drugs.’Short URL:
U.S. teenagers smoke more cannabis than cigarettes, new study reveals
Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @ 15:56:54 EST in Drugs