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Teens Opting for Real Pot


WebMD News from HealthDay

Dec. 20, 2013 -- While U.S. teens are staying away from synthetic marijuana, they're smoking more of the natural version, a new survey of more than 40,000 students shows.

USA Today reported Wednesday that high school seniors who said they smoked synthetic drugs such as K2 and Spice dropped from 11 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2013.

However, one in 15 seniors reported smoking marijuana daily in 2013, a sharp increase from only one in 50 reporting daily use two decades ago.

The survey, supported by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by University of Michigan researchers, included students in grades 8, 10 and 12.

The investigators also found that fewer teens see marijuana as risky -- from 75 percent nearly 20 years ago to 44 percent last year and 40 percent this year, USA Today reported. When marijuana use is perceived as safe, its usage tends to increase, a study researcher noted.

About one-fourth of seniors said they'd smoked pot in the previous month, the report indicated. Meanwhile, 36 percent of seniors, 30 percent of sophomores and 12 percent of 8th graders reported smoking marijuana in the past year.

"Young people are getting the wrong message from the medical marijuana and legalization campaigns. If it's continued to be talked about as a benign substance that has no ill effects, we're doing a great disservice to young people in giving them that message," Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, told USA Today.

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