Sixty percent of U.S. high school seniors do not see regular marijuana use as harmful to their health, according to this year's Monitoring the Future survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. More than a third of the seniors surveyed reported smoking marijuana in the past 12 months.
Each year, the Monitoring the Future survey asks eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders about their drug and alcohol use and their attitudes toward illegal substances. For 2013, more than 41,000 students from 389 U.S. public and private schools participated.
Only 2.4% of high school seniors reported using marijuana daily in 1993; this year that percentage nearly tripled – to 6.5 %. And it's not just the older students – more than 12% of the eighth-graders surveyed said they had used marijuana.
Survey results for the teens' tobacco use seem to reflect the decline seen in adults. For the first time, less than 10% of the students in all three grades reported smoking cigarettes in the past month. But teens aren't giving up nicotine just yet. More than 21% of seniors acknowledged smoking tobacco with a hookah this year, compared with 18.3% in 2012.
But these numbers, should be taken with a bit of perspective, experts say.
The survey results must be considered cautiously as the participants may have been afraid to report their true use of illegal substances, or may have put down false information.
The team of researchers who led the study will be exploring the link between state laws and students' marijuana use going forward, the report authors said. Many of the teens who used marijuana in states with medical marijuana laws said they obtained the drugs through their own or someone else's prescription.