Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Teens Smoking Fewer Cigarettes, More Marijuana

New Survey Also Shows a Troubling Rise in Use of Synthetic Drugs K2 and Spice
By Rita Rubin
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 14, 2011 -- Fewer teens than ever are smoking cigarettes, but marijuana use has steadily increased over the past five years, according to a new nationwide survey.

In addition, alcohol use by teens is at its lowest level in 15 years, according to the “Monitoring the Future” survey.

In its 37th year, the annual survey polled about 47,000 eighth, 10th, and 12th graders about their use of alcohol, as well as other drugs both legal and illegal. The survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, is conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

Daily marijuana use was the highest in 30 years, NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD, noted at a news conference. More than 6% of high school seniors reported using it every day. In addition, Volkow said, the percentage of teens who think marijuana is risky continues to decline.

White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske blamed the increase in marijuana use partly on the growing number of states that have legalized medical marijuana.

“We face a very difficult message as adults when we see marijuana being advertised as medicine when it has not gone through the FDA process,” Kerlikowske said at the news conference.

K2 and Spice

A related “problematic” issue, Volkow said, “is the emergence of synthetic cannabinoids.” The active ingredient in marijuana is one such type of compound.

Volkow said she was surprised at the “extremely high” percentage of 12th graders who reported using the synthetic drug -- best-known by the brand names K2 and Spice -- in the previous year. The survey shows that more than 11% of 12th graders said they had used it in the past year.

According to a prepared statement by Kerlikowske, “K2 and Spice are dangerous drugs that can cause serious harm.”

Synthetic cannabinoids, sold in smoke shops and gas stations, circumvented the Drug Enforcement Administration because they weren’t the exact same cannabinoid found in marijuana, Lloyd Johnston, PhD, who has served as principal investigator of the survey since its inception, said at the news conference.

In February, though, Johnston said, the compounds were added to the list of “controlled,” or tightly regulated, substances. Because the 2011 survey was conducted at around the same time, Johnston said, it’s too soon to tell whether tighter regulation of synthetic cannabinoids has led to a decline in use by teens.

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd