Teens Today More Likely to Smoke Marijuana than Tobacco
More teens are using marijuana and alcohol than smoking cigarettes, according to a study from the University of Nebraska College of Public Health.
Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership For A Drug-Free New Jersey, says "teens are getting mixed messages with regard to marijuana."
He says the perception of risk among teens about the use of marijuana has dropped significantly, something Valente says is the report's most important point.
In 1991, about 78% of teens believed marijuana was harmful. By 2017, 29% of teens thought so.
Researchers at Nebraska found teen marijuana use in the past month increased 10-fold from 1991 to 2017, with about 6.3% of teens in the study using it.
The report also stated that teens who used marijuana and alcohol combined almost doubled, from 3.6% to 7.6%.
We asked Valente about the persistent theory that pot is a gateway drug that leads to more serious drug use.
"I think that the research is inconclusive," he said. "However, there's no question that there's a culture that takes place when a young person is using and experimenting with any drug and that will potentially expose them to other drugs that they might experiment with as well."
Valente also makes this point that "parents have to be engaged and involved at every level."
"I think that those conversations have to start at a relatively young age ... at the fifth-, sixth-grade level because we know that young people are being approached every day at that point," he said.
He advises parents to adopt a "non-judgmental" frame of mind when discussing marijuana with teens.