Nearly 1.5 million U.S. teens have indulged in heavy marijuana use, smoking pot at least 20 times in the last month—an increase of 80 percent since 2008, according to the study. Numbers for those who have tried marijuana in the past month are up 42 percent since the last survey done three years ago, representing the most significant increase in teen use since 1998.
Research indicates that the “heavy” marijuana users are more likely to move on to crack/cocaine or ecstacy, as well as the abuse of prescription drugs.
Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of Partnership at Drugfree.org, was alarmed by the study’s findings and shared his concerns in a statement released by the company.
“Heavy use of marijuana—particularly beginning in adolescence—brings the risk of serious problems and our data show it is linked to involvement with alcohol and other drugs as well,” his statement said. “Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them. Parents aren’t talking about prescription drugs and marijuana.”
Seventy one percent of those involved in the study claim to have friends who use marijuana regularly, while only 26 percent said it wasn’t prevalent in their high schools.
Pasierb believes that parents’ nonchalant attitude toward the dangers of teen marijuana use has rubbed off on the children, something with which MetLife President and CEO Dennis White agreed.
“While it may be difficult to clearly understand just how dangerous marijuana use can be for teens,” he said, “it is imperative that we all pay attention to the warning signs and intervene anyway we can.”