2010 NATIONAL STUDY “Heavy” Marijuana Use Up 80 % Since 2008

One in Ten Teens Reports Using Marijuana at Least 20 Times a Month

Our thanks to The Partnership at Drugfree.org; Join Together and MetLife Foundation for collecting this data and releasing the report through Cassie Goldberg  News Releases

Only 51 Percent of Teens Now See “Great Risk” in Using Marijuana Regularly

Teen Abuse of Rx; Over-The-Counter Medicines – Remain at Dangerous Levels

New York, NY – May 2, 2012 – New, nationally projectable survey results released today by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation found that past-month marijuana use – particularly heavy use – has increased significantly among U.S. high school students since 2008. [

The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation, found that 9 percent of teens (nearly 1.5 million) smoked marijuana heavily (at least 20 times) in the past month. Overall, past-month heavy marijuana use is up 80 percent among U.S. teens since 2008.

Trends in Teen Marijuana Use According to the New PATS Data (2008-2011)

  • Past-month use is up 42 percent (up from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2011, which translates to about 4 million teens).
  • Past-year use is up 26 percent (up from 31 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2011, which translates to about 6 million teens).
  • Lifetime use is up 21 percent (up from 39 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2011, which translates to nearly 8 million teens).

This marks an upward trend in teen marijuana use over the past three years. The last time marijuana use was this widespread among teens was in 1998 when past month use of marijuana was at 27 percent.

“These findings are deeply disturbing as the increases we’re seeing in heavy, regular marijuana use among high school students can spell real trouble for these teens later on,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “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. Kids who begin using drugs or alcohol as teenagers are more likely to struggle with substance use disorders when compared to those who start using after the teenage years.”

Teen Marijuana Use Has Become a Normalized Behavior

Teens now report seeing more of their peers smoking marijuana and only 26 percent agree with the statement, “in my school, most teens don’t smoke marijuana” (down from 37 percent in 2008). Also, 71 percent of teens say they have friends who use marijuana regularly (up from 64 percent in 2008).

Teen past-month “heavy” marijuana users are significantly more likely than teens who have not used marijuana in the past year to:

  • use cocaine/crack (30 times more likely)
  • use Ecstasy (20 times more likely)
  • abuse prescription pain relievers (15 times more likely)
  • abuse over-the-counter medicines  (14 times more likely)

Social disapproval of marijuana among teens remained the same, with 61 percent of teens saying they disapprove of their peers using marijuana. (About 41 percent say they ‘strongly disapprove’). The PATS data also found an erosion of anti-marijuana attitudes among teens, with only about half of teens (51 percent) saying they see “great risk” in using marijuana, down significantly from 61 percent in 2005.

“We have also seen a considerable decline over the past five years in the proportion of teens seeing great risk associated with marijuana use,” says Professor Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the nationwide Monitoring the Future study conducted at the University of Michigan. “We believe that this decline in perceived risk has played an important role in the increases in teen use of marijuana, as it has done in the past. The fact that perceived risk is still falling portends a further increase in use.”

As teen drug use takes a turn for the worse, a heavier burden is placed on the shoulders of parents to play a more active role in protecting their kids from the health risks posed by drug and alcohol abuse. The removal of critical pieces of our national prevention infrastructure across the country – The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which was highly focused on educating youth about the dangers of teen marijuana use, and the elimination of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program – left a gaping hole where drug and alcohol education resources should be.

“The latest findings showing an increase in marijuana use among teens is unsettling and should serve as a wake-up call to everyone in a position to prevent unhealthy behavior,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “While it may be difficult to clearly understand just how dangerous marijuana use can be for teens, it is imperative that we all pay attention to the warning signs and intervene anyway we can. Early intervention is critical to helping prevent teens from drug abuse and addiction.”

Teen Rx Medicine Abuse Remains High, but Relatively Unchanged, Parents Not Safeguarding Medicines at Home and Misusing Rx Medications Themselves

While the new PATS data did not show similar increases in teen abuse of medicines, prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse remain at unacceptably high levels, which lead to considerable damage to young lives. The study showed teen lifetime abuse of medicines is holding steady at 17 percent for Rx drugs and 12 percent for OTC cough and cold medicines. Among teens, past year abuse of the prescription pain relievers Vicodin and OxyContin, for example, has plateaued at about 10 percent.

However, it’s important to note that parental action does not appear to be contributing to the relative flattening of teen abuse of medications, as fewer parents report safeguarding Rx medications at home. The number of parents who agree with the statement “anyone can access prescription medicines in the medicine cabinet” is up from 50 percent in 2010 to 64 percent 2011, meaning the medications are more readily available to anyone in their homes. Fewer parents also report communicating the risks of getting high, or any other reason for abuse, from prescription medicines with their children; down from 82 percent who said they communicated the risks of Rx drug abuse to their kids in 2009 to 69 percent in 2011. The number of parents who say they “keep alcohol locked in a cabinet at home” is also down from 32 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2011.

PATS also found that an increased number of parents report misusing or abusing prescription medications themselves. More than one in ten parents (15 percent) say they’ve used an Rx medication not prescribed for them at least once in the past year, a 25 percent increase from 2010 to 2011.

Teen Boys and Hispanic Teens Leading Marijuana Increases, Fewer Teen Girls Abusing Rx Medicines

The PATS survey confirms that teen boys are leading the overall increases in marijuana use. Past year use among teen boys is up 24 percent (from 34 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2011) and past month use among teen boys is up 38 percent (from 21 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2011). Additionally, boys’ heavy use – smoking marijuana at least 20 times a month – is higher than that of their female counterparts (11 percent for teen boys vs. 6 percent for teen girls) and boys’ heavy marijuana use is up an alarming 57 percent, from 7 percent in 2008 to 11 percent in 2011.

According to the new data, half of Hispanic teens (50 percent) report that they have used marijuana in the past year (versus 40 percent for African Americans and 35 percent for Caucasians). This means Hispanic teens are nearly twice as likely (43 percent) as Caucasian teens to have smoked marijuana in the past year (50 percent vs. 35 percent) and 25 percent more likely than African-American teens.

The study also found that fewer teen girls are abusing Rx medications. Teen girls’ abuse of a prescription drug “to get high or alter your mood” is down 30 percent since 2010 (from 23 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2011) and is down a total of 24 percent since 2009 (21 percent in 2009). Rx drug abuse among teen boys has remained relatively flat over the same time period.

Teens are starting to view medicine abuse as less socially acceptable and the percentage of teens who “strongly disapprove” of peers using prescription drugs to get high has gone up significantly – from 52 percent in 2010 to 58 percent in 2011. Fewer also say it’s “very” or “fairly” easy for teens to get prescription pain relievers, down 25 percent from 57 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2011.

“These data set the scene for a ‘perfect storm’ that will threaten the health of a generation of American teens,” said Pasierb. “Science has shown that adolescent brains are still developing and are more easily harmed by drug and alcohol use than fully developed adult brains. Dramatic increases in teen marijuana use, coupled with entrenched behavior of abuse of Rx and OTC drugs, puts teens at greater risk for substance use disorders, academic decline and other problems. With government budgets slashing the national prevention infrastructure and many prevention programs already eliminated, parents must step up to fill those voids, to protect their children’s health and futures.”

Mixed Results on Teen Abuse of Cigarettes, Inhalants, Alcohol, Meth, Cocaine/Crack, Ecstasy

  • Smoking rates have declined with 22 percent of teens reporting smoking cigarettes in the past month – this is down 19 percent from 27 percent last year.
  • Past-year inhalant abuse dropped from 10 percent in 2010 to 7 percent in 2011, yet only 64 percent of teens strongly agree that “sniffing or huffing things to get high can kill you,” significantly less than the 70 percent of teens who said the same in 2008.
  • Past-year alcohol use is holding steady at 56 percent and past month is at 38 percent. (since 2008)
  • Past-year methamphetamine use is holding at 4 percent. (since 2008)
  • Past-year cocaine/crack use remains at 7 percent. (since 2008)
  • Past-year use of Ecstasy is up 50 percent since 2008 (from 6 percent in 2008 to 9 percent in 2011).

About The Partnership at Drugfree.org
Ninety percent of addictions start in the teenage years. The Partnership at Drugfree.org is dedicated to solving the problem of teen substance abuse. Together with experts in science, parenting and communications, the nonprofit translates research on teen behavior, addiction and treatment into useful and effective resources for both individuals and communities. Working toward a vision where all young people will be able to live their lives free of drug and alcohol abuse, The Partnership at Drugfree.org works with parents and other influencers to help them prevent and get help for drug and alcohol abuse by teens and young adults. The organization depends on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and the public sector and is thankful to SAG/AFTRA and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity.

About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to continue MetLife’s longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Our commitment to building a secure future for individuals and communities worldwide is reflected in our dedication to empowering older adults, preparing young people and building livable communities. Since it was established, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $530 million in grants to nonprofit organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. For more information visit www.metlife.org

Resource: The Real Facts about Drugs


Tagged with: marijuanaMetLifeparentspartnership attitude tracking studypatspats 2011prescriptionteens

It takes a crisis to affect a change

In 1998, De La Salle, a Catholic school in New Orleans, was rumored to have a drug problem. Some in the city had nicknamed the school “De La Drugs,” and the problem was eroding the quality of education and threatening young lives. Fortunately, the school had a Head Mistress and Principal named Yvonne Gelpi who had the courage, wisdom and will to deal with the problem head on.

With the assistance of her administration, Ms Gelpi proposed a hair testing program with a company named Psychemedics. Hair has a 90 day window of detection and it is difficult, if not impossible, to cheat the test. She initially met with the faculty, informing them that if students were to be tested it was only fair that faculty and administration be tested as well. Next she met with parents in an open forum, expecting 50 parents, and surprised when 250 showed up. After the session, she got a standing ovation from the parents.

Next, she held student assemblies and informed them of the hair testing policy, which would be implemented when they returned to school in the fall after summer vacation. If they were using drugs, they had fair warning to stop. No harm, no foul.

On the first round of tests, out of a student body of 700 students, 33 kids tested positive. The parents were brought in with the student and informed of the result. There was no penalty enforced by the school, only a reminder that if a second positive occurred any time during their school tenure, they would be asked to leave the school. Counseling was suggested as an option but at the parent’s direction. The second round three months later only produced 3 positives. Today, almost 15 years later, the program still exists, but the drug problem is gone.

Says Ms Gelpi, “…Drug testing changed the school environment overnight. We had a 60% reduction in detentions for fighting; 82% reduction in detentions for disruptive behavior; and drug dealers no longer hung around the outskirts of the campus. The intent was to be as non-punitive as possible; to get drugs out of the school, not the kids.” Ms Gelpi not only enhanced the education at De La Salle, she saved a lot of young lives, not only at her school, but in many others that followed suit.

Private schools have an advantage when it comes to drug testing, as they can make it a criteria for admission. But public schools do not have to be deprived. A 2002 Supreme Court decision (Board of Education vs Earls, No.01-332) allowed random drug testing for sports and extra curricular activities, and suspicion based testing is legal for all students, and highly recommended.

The reason most students experiment with drugs is due to peer pressure. A voluntary program for parents and kids who sign up, backed with suspicion-based testing at school, eliminates this pressure and gives them an excuse not to experiment. Research has shown the biggest reason kids do not use drugs is fear their parents will find out. The accuracy and 90 day window of detection for hair testing has proven to be the best deterrent to keep kids off drugs, and for early identification of kids who have a problem so they can get help.

If schools establish a policy that they will hair test any child that shows cause for concern they could experience the same overnight result as De La Salle. Test results can be confidential between the schools and parents, with the consequences for the 1st, 2nd and subsequent positive tests well defined so that kids learn to be accountable for their own actions. Parents pay $59 per test, so little or no financial burden for the school. Testing once during a school year on a random basis is normally sufficient to deter drug use.

Academic achievement and discipline aside, teens are 6 times more susceptible to addiction than adults. Screening will improve the school environment while saving many young people from addiction.

Drugs on the Roads

How Many People Take Drugs and Drive?

ANS: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications.

More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs.1 Another NHTSA study found that in 2009, among fatally injured drivers, 18 percent tested positive for at least one drug (e.g., illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter), an increase from 13 percent in 2005.2

Together, these indicators are a sign that continued substance abuse education, prevention, and law enforcement efforts are critical to public health and safety.

According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.5 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.3 This corresponds to 4.2 percent of the population aged 12 or older, similar to the rate in 2008 (4 percent) and not significantly different from the rate in 2002 (4.7 percent). In 2009, the rate was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (12.8 percent). In addition, NSDUH reported the following:

  • In 2009, an estimated 12 percent of persons aged 12 or older (30.2 million persons) drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. This percentage has dropped since 2002, when it was 14.2 percent.
  • Driving under the influence of an illicit drug or alcohol was associated with age. In 2009, an estimated 6.3 percent of youth aged 16 or 17 drove under the influence. This percentage steadily increased with age to reach a peak of 24.8 percent among young adults aged 21 to 25. Beyond the age of 25, these rates showed a general decline with increasing age.
  • Also in 2009, among persons aged 12 or older, males were more likely than females (16.9 percent versus 9.2 percent, respectively) to drive under the influence of an illicit drug or alcohol in the past year.

In recent years, more attention has been given to drugs other than alcohol that have increasingly been recognized as hazards to road traffic safety. Some of this research has been done in other countries or in specific regions within the United States, and the prevalence rates for different drugs used vary accordingly. Overall, marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Other drugs also implicated include benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines.4

A number of studies have examined illicit drug use in drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes, reckless driving, or fatal accidents. For example—

  • One study found that about 34 percent of motor vehicle crash victims admitted to a Maryland trauma center tested positive for “drugs only;” about 16 percent tested positive for “alcohol only.”
  • Approximately 9.9 percent (or 1 in 10) tested positive for alcohol and drugs, and within this group, 50 percent were younger than age 18.5 Although it is interesting that more people in this study tested positive for “drugs only” compared with “alcohol only,” it should be noted that this represents one geographic location, so findings cannot be generalized. In fact, the majority of studies among similar populations have found higher prevalence rates of alcohol use compared with drug use.6

Studies conducted in several localities have found that approximately 4 to 14 percent of drivers who sustained injury or died in traffic accidents tested positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana.7

Do you think a testing program like TBAC.US is endorsing could have helped?  Will You help us to spread the word? 

  • In a large study of almost 3,400 fatally injured drivers from three Australian states (Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia) between 1990 and 1999, drugs other than alcohol were present in 26.7 percent of the cases.8 These included cannabis (13.5 percent), opioids (4.9 percent), stimulants (4.1 percent), benzodiazepines (4.1 percent), and other psychotropic drugs (2.7 percent). Almost 10 percent of the cases involved both alcohol and other drugs.

Teens and Drugged Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 19.9 It is generally accepted that because teens are the least experienced drivers as a group, they have a higher risk of being involved in an accident compared with more experienced drivers. When this lack of experience is combined with the use of marijuana or other substances that impact cognitive and motor abilities, the results can be tragic.

Results from NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey indicate that in 2007, more than 12 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the 2 weeks prior to the survey.10

The 2007 State of Maryland Adolescent Survey indicates that 11.1 percent of the State’s licensed adolescent drivers reported driving under the influence of marijuana on three or more occasions, and 10 percent reported driving while using a drug other than marijuana (not including alcohol).11

Why is Drugged Driving Hazardous?

Drugs acting on the brain can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, and other faculties required for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the amount consumed, the history of the user, and other factors.


THC affects areas of the brain that control the body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment, as well as sensations. Because these effects are multifaceted, more research is required to understand marijuana’s impact on the ability of drivers to react to complex and unpredictable situations. However, we do know:

  • A meta-analysis of approximately 60 experimental studies—including laboratory, driving simulator, and on-road experiments—found that behavioral and cognitive skills related to driving performance were impaired in a dose-dependent fashion with increasing THC blood levels.12
  • Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver’s attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.
  • A study of over 3,000 fatally injured drivers in Australia showed that when marijuana was present in the blood of the driver, he or she was much more likely to be at fault for the accident. Additionally, the higher the THC concentration, the more likely the driver was to be culpable.13
  • Research shows that impairment increases significantly when marijuana use is combined with alcohol.14 Studies have found that many drivers who test positive for alcohol also test positive for THC, making it clear that drinking and drugged driving are often linked behaviors.

MJ “Spin” vs The Truth

(Special thanks to our friends at the Rocky Mountain HIDTA-CO)

May 10th, 2012

Spin: Taxing marijuana like alcohol and tobacco would result in millions of dollars in additional tax revenues for vital services, such as our schools, which have faced millions in budget cuts over the past few years.

Truth: Marijuana, like alcohol and tobacco, would be taxed and generate revenue. However, what they fail to mention is that tax revenues from our two legal substances, alcohol and tobacco, cover less than 15% of the economic costs due to use of these substances. That includes health-care, treatment, lost productivity, criminal justice costs, traffic crashes and fatalities and dropouts, to name just a few. It is reasonable to conclude that the figures with marijuana use, if legalized, would mirror those of alcohol and tobacco.

Spin: Hundreds of thousands of people are arrested each year for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Marijuana offenses are causing overcrowding in our prisons, crowding our court systems, presenting enormous costs to our legal system and law enforcement, taking time away from catching and prosecuting violent criminals.

Truth: In Colorado, possession of a small amount of marijuana results in a citation, like a traffic ticket. The fine is $100. Less than 1% of the prison population in Colorado is incarcerated for any kind of marijuana offense including large-scale distribution and cultivation. There are more people in prison for repeated traffic offenses than marijuana offenses.

Spin: The War on Drugs has been a failure; that millions of dollars are spent every year fighting a losing battle.

Truth: Use of the term “War on Drugs” by President Nixon, just like the term “War on Poverty” by President Johnson, was unfortunate. Anytime you deal with human behavior you will never achieve total victory. The key is to limit the number of people engaged in the activity and thus the corresponding negative impact. How to measure success and failure is subjective. However, the very few that would argue that to reduce the rate of drug abuse from the late 1970‟s by 50% over a fifteen-year period, and generally maintain stability, is a failure. There are relatively few that would argue that reducing teen drug abuse over the last decade by 24% is a c/o Colorado Drug Investigators Association www.healthydrugfreecolorado.org failure. There are very few that would argue that reducing clandestine labs in Colorado from over 300 a year to less than 10 is a failure.
There are very few that would argue reducing cocaine and methamphetamine use down to .6% and .2%, respectively, of our population is a failure.

Spin: Legalizing marijuana would cut off the flow of money to Mexican drug cartels who sell marijuana in the U.S. It would reduce the amount of crime and violence associated with the marijuana trade.

Truth: There is much more to Mexican drug cartels than marijuana trafficking. A RAND study showed that, in our most populous state (California) with six times the population of Colorado, legalizing marijuana would only affect between 2% and 4% of the cartels‟ profits. U.S. drug users only make up about 10% of the worldwide users of drugs. The cartels are involved in all types of crimes including trafficking, human smuggling, extortion, and kidnap. Corruption within the Mexican government is a major problem that allows the cartels to flourish.

Spin: Marijuana could be regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

Truth: Alcohol and tobacco are the greatest indicators of why legalizing marijuana would be devastating in terms of economic and human suffering. Colorado cannot regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco because it still remains against federal law. Marijuana retail establishments would still be criminal enterprises under federal law and their customers federal law violators. The only way to regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco would be to change federal law.

Spin: We don‟t want to legalize marijuana but rather decriminalize it.

Truth: No matter how they mask it they are, in fact, attempting to legalize marijuana – and this is bad for all of America.


Last week’s devastating report on youth pot-use in America.
California is in worse shape!

NEWS: Teen “Heavy” Marijuana Use Up 80 Percent Since 2008, One in Ten Teens Reports Using Marijuana at Least 20 Times a Month


May 2nd 2012 – Rancho Cucamonga, CA – Coalition for a Drug Free California (CDFC) warns leaders to get with the program and make anti-marijuana efforts a priority. Parents must demand action.

“Today’s findings are absolutely startling. America is going backwards. We knew because of the so-called social acceptability of medical marijuana that youth drug use was up – but nobody saw this coming. A rise of 80% since 2008, roughly the time Obama became president to now, is just shocking. We are losing our youth and call upon the President, Congress and state elected leaders across America to demand action and accountability for this disaster,” said Dr. Paul Chabot, President of the Coalition for a Drug Free California. “All the nonsense about marijuana legalization is definitely having a negative effect on America’s future – our kids. Parents need to be outraged. Leaders must be held accountable. We call upon the President for a special address to the Nation. America needs a new strategy.”

Teen past-month “heavy” marijuana users are significantly more likely than teens who have not used marijuana in the past year to:

  • use cocaine/crack (30 times more likely)
  • use Ecstasy (20 times more likely)
  • abuse prescription pain relievers (15 times more likely)
  • abuse over-the-counter medicines  (14 times more likely)