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Marijuana Use

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. According to the 2000 NHSDA, an estimated 14.0 million Americans were current (past month) marijuana users. This represents 6.3 percent of people aged 12 or older and 76 percent of current illicit drug users. Of all current illicit drug users, approximately 59 percent used only marijuana, 17 percent used marijuana and another illicit drug, and the remaining 24 percent used only an illicit drug other than marijuana in the past month.

The NHSDA and the Monitoring the Future (MTF) have shown generally similar long-term trends in the prevalence of substance use among youths, regardless of substantial differences in methodology between the two primary surveys of youth substance use. Between 1999 and 2000, both the NHSDA and MTF found no significant changes in lifetime, past year, and current use of marijuana.

The MTF found that marijuana use rose particularly sharply among 8th graders in the 1990s, with annual prevalence tripling between 1991 and 1996 (i.e., from 6 to 18 percent. Starting a year later, marijuana use also rose significantly among 10th and 12th graders. Following the recent peak in 1996-1997, annual marijuana use declined somewhat in recent years.

The Core Institute's annual data on alcohol and other drug use at colleges and universities indicate that the trend of increased marijuana use holds true among college students. According to this data, annual usage (defined as the prevalence of use in the last year) among college students has steadily increased since 1990.

The Harvard School of Public Health conducted three surveys between 1993 and 1999, examining the drug and alcohol use of 44,265 college students nationwide.4 The study found that 9 out of 10 students (91 percent) who use marijuana participate in other high-risk activities such as heavy drinking or cigarette smoking.

Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette (called a "joint"). The drug can also be smoked in a water pipe, called a "bong." Some users mix marijuana into foods or use it to brew a tea. Marijuana cigarettes or blunts often include crack cocaine, a combination known by various street names, such as "primos" or "woolies." Joints and blunts often are dipped in PCP and are called "happy sticks," "wicky sticks," "love boat," or "tical." Hash users either smoke the drug in a pipe or mix it with tobacco and smoke it as a cigarette. Lately, young people have a new method for smoking marijuana: they slice open cigars and replace the tobacco with marijuana, making what's called a "blunt." When the blunt is smoked with a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor, it is called a "B-40."

  • Marijuana Use:
    • White youths were more likely to use marijuana than Hispanic, black, or Asian youths
    • In 2000, over 3 million youths aged 12 to 17 used marijuana at least once during the past year
    • Youths with an average grade of D or below were more than 4 times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year as youths who reported an average grade of A

Study: Teens Drive After Marijuana Use

Although the number of teens drinking and driving is on the decline, new research shows that teens often drive after using marijuana, Reuters reported March 7.

In addition, the study by Canadian researchers shows that teens will ride with drivers who have been drinking.

For the study, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto surveyed 1,846 students in grades seven to 13 in Ontario schools. They found that during the past year, 32 percent of the teens said they had ridden with a driver who was drunk.

As a result of the findings, Dr. Robert Mann, who led the research, said that education campaigns should not only target drivers, but passengers as well.

"We know that alcohol and driving don't mix," Mann said. "This message seems to have been sinking in with the drivers; however, for whatever reason, people may not be realizing that being a passenger with a drunk driver may be as dangerous as drinking and driving yourself."

In addition, the study found that of the students with driver's licenses, 20 percent, or one in five students, said they drove within an hour after they used marijuana.

"Some students may think that driving after smoking marijuana is not as serious a safety issue as driving after drinking alcohol, Mann said. "Evidence is accumulating that cannabis use is a serious safety threat."

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

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