Teen Pot Smoking ‘Surges’ While Staying the Same

According to the latest
Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey
, the percentage of high
school students who said they had ever tried marijuana fell between
2010 and 2011, the percentage reporting past-year use remained the
same, and the percentage reporting past-month use rose slightly.
But that is not what the press release from
the Partnership at Drugfree.org (formerly the Partnership for a
Drug-Free America) said. The organization, which sponsors the
survey together with the MetLife Foundation, led with this instead:
“National Study: Teen ‘Heavy’ Marijuana Use Up 80 Percent Since
2008, One in Ten Teens Reports Using Marijuana at Least 20 Times a

Sexier, right? News outlets sure thought so:

marijuana smoking up 80 percent
among teens

Study: Teen marijuana use on the rise

More Teens
Smoking Marijuana, Survey Says

Pot Use Soars Among
Teens, Survey Finds

Survey: Teen Marijuana Use Surging

And so on. Those summaries definitely sound more alarming than,
say, “Marijuana Use Among Teenagers Remains Essentially Unchanged.”
But they’re not quite as—what’s the word?—true. The increase hyped
by the Partnership happened almost entirely between 2008 and 2009.
Since then the numbers have been basically flat. Furthermore, the
numbers recorded last year are virtually indistinguishable from the
numbers recorded in 1998, the earliest year for which the new
report includes data.

Data from the Monitoring
the Future Study
, which is conducted by University of Michigan
researchers under contract with the National Institute on Drug
Abuse, show a similar pattern: Marijuana use rates are essentially
the same now as they were in the late 1990s. In between, they went
down and up for reasons that remain unclear but that probably have
little to do with
anti-drug ads
medical marijuana laws
, the number of pot
, or the federal government’s drug control “strategy.”

One notable difference between the Partnership Attitude Tracking
Survey (PATS) and the Monitoring the Future (MTF) Study: The PATS
numbers tend to be higher, especially for “heavy” marijuana
use—meaning use on 20 or more days in the previous month, which MTF
calls “daily” use. While PATS put

You can read the rest of this article at: http://reason.com/blog/2012/05/02/teen-pot-smoking-surges-while-staying-th