Time.com: "Teens choosing to use marijuana instead of alcohol are in fact making a safer choice"
Written by SAFER
Thursday, 15 December 2011
This year's national survey on teen drug use is out and once again it shows marijuana use is increasing and alcohol use is decreasing. It's receiving coverage from several news outlets, but this particular article from Time Magazine's on-line "Healthland" section caught our eye.
As Maia Szalavitz reports:
The latest update to the annual Monitoring the Future survey of drug use in American youth bears mainly good news, at least if your interest is in reducing drug-related harm:
both teen drinking and cigarette smoking are at historic lows; in fact,
past-month marijuana use is now more commonly reported by high school
seniors than smoking cigarettes. [SAFER emphasis]
To be clear, we would prefer teens remain drug free, and we have to assume that the folks at Time Magazine would, as well. But if they are going to use an intoxicating substance, they pose far less harm to themselves and to others if they choose to use marijuana instead of alcohol. As the article notes:
Alcohol contributes to overdose deaths, significant long-term health problems, serious injuries, and violent crimes, whereas marijuana has never been found to contribute to such problems. Teens choosing to use marijuana instead of alcohol are in fact making a safer choice. [SAFER emphasis]
We agree all around, as demonstrated by this story by Phil Smith at the Drug War Chronicle, who asked SAFER's Mason Tvert to weigh in:
..."We're always concerned about young people using drugs, but it's clear
that more young people are understanding that marijuana is a less
harmful substance and making that choice," said Tvert. "While we
certainly don't want to promote marijuana use among minors, this report
suggests they are making the safer choice to use marijuana rather than
Tvert attributed both the rise in teen use and the decline in their
perceptions of marijuana's risks to their increasing exposure to
knowledge about marijuana.
"Ultimately, people are hearing more and more about the facts
surrounding marijuana, and as they continue to hear that marijuana is
far less harmful than alcohol, that it doesn't contribute to violence,
that there is no danger of a deadly overdose, they are increasingly more
comfortable making that choice."