The Russ Belville Show
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The latest Monitoring the Future survey is out.  Like any collection of statistics about marijuana, the drug warriors will spin them to advance the agenda of drug-testing, discriminating against, locking up, and re-educating adults who choose marijuana over martinis, Marlboros, Midol, or morphine.  More kids are smoking pot?  By God, we need to spend more money doing what we’re doing to stop it!  Fewer kids are smoking pot?  By God, what we’re doing is working, give us more money!

The media works in lockstep with the drug warriors, perhaps complicity, but likely just as a function of their need for conflict and danger stories to sell oil and pharmaceutical advertising.  Take, for instance, the Washington Post on the latest federal survey of about 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders:

Federal survey finds teens’ perception of marijuana dangers falls to 20-year low despite risks

WASHINGTON — Teenagers’ perception of the dangers of marijuana has fallen to the lowest level in more than 20 years, a new study says, prompting federal researchers to warn that already high use of the drug could increase as more states move to legalize it.

The annual survey released Wednesday by the National Institutes of Health found that only 41.7 percent of eighth graders believe that occasional use of marijuana is harmful, while 66.9 percent regard it as dangerous when used regularly. Both rates are the lowest since 1991, when the government first began tracking this age group.

Eeek!  Run!  Kids today think marijuana is less dangerous today than the kids twenty years ago!  Kids who grew up with one president who warned them to “Just Say No” and said “I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast,” followed by another who creates a “drug czar” and swears that if there isn’t enough room in prison for all the pot smokers, “we’ll make room,” and who were fed a regular TV diet of eggs in frying pans representing their drug-fried brains, why, they thought pot was much more risky than today’s kids raised in the world of medical marijuana, Google searches of legitimate cannabis science, and the stark examples of potheads like Michael Phelps, Rihanna, and Barack Obama.  What a completely unsurprising statistic!

So, since these campaigns to legalize marijuana in Washington and Colorado had both been working since 2011, and since these darn kids keep stubbornly assessing the relative risks of substances based on science and observation, we’d better check out just how much the teen use has skyrocketed.  Let’s check the US News & World Report:

Marijuana Use Rising in High School Seniors: Report

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) — Current — and in some cases, rising — levels of marijuana use by 8th, 10th and 12th graders are cause for concern, U.S. health officials said Wednesday.

Moreover, the misperception that marijuana is harmless continues to grow among teens, according to a report released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Wait, did you say “in some cases, rising?”  That’s odd.  Anyway, continue…

In 2012, 6.5 percent of high school seniors said they smoked marijuana every day — that’s up from 5.1 percent in 2007, according to the report.

And almost 23 percent of these students said they had smoked marijuana in the month before the survey was done, and 36 percent admitted to smoking marijuana in the past year.

Among 10th graders, 3.5 percent said they smoked marijuana daily and 17 percent said they used the drug in the past month, while 28 percent used it in the past year, according to the survey.

Wow, those sure are some scary numbers!  Daily 12th grade pot smokers went up from 5.1% to 6.5% since 2007!

Wait a minute.  Don’t they do this survey every year, not every five years?

Fortunately, thanks to a government-created internet, we can actually look up the survey numbers for ourselves.  Guess what you find?  In the past year, marijuana smoking rates have gone down or remained the same for every grade, at every frequency, except for 30-day prevalence among 12th graders that went up a staggering 0.3 percentage points.

Eighth graders’, 10th graders’, and 12th graders’ lifetime use of marijuana went down since last year.  Eighth graders’, 10th graders’, and 12th graders’ annual use of marijuana went down since last year.  Eighth graders’ and 10th graders’ monthly use of marijuana went down since last year.  Only the monthly use of marijuana by high school seniors has increased since last year, by a whopping 0.3 percentage points.

And yet, even as 22.9% of high school seniors are admitting to monthly marijuana use, that figure pales in comparison to the 34.2% who were monthly users back in 1997, the first year of medical marijuana in California.  But it’s much higher than the 11.9% who admitted monthly use in 1991.  We can say all sorts of things about teen use if we look back to pick a number we want from, say, 2007, 1997, or 1991, can’t we?

It should also be noted that use of “any illicit drug other than marijuana” by 8th, 10th, & 12th graders, both lifetime and annual use, is down, and is lower than it was in 2007, and lower still than it was in 1997.  Could it be that as kids get access to accurate information about marijuana they can trust, they begin to trust the information available about other drugs as well?

The survey also tells us that 6.5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders, and 1.1% of 8th graders are “daily or near-daily” marijuana users.

For one final bit, this from Smell the Truth at (which I can’t seem to find a source for, and they don’t link, so…)

The CDC survey also found that in Colorado, past-30-day marijuana use among high school students decreased 11 percent since the state began regulating the sale of medical marijuana in 2009, whereas it increased 11 percent nationwide, where marijuana remains entirely unregulated.

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