Pot Smoking By Teenagers. Essay

2850 words - 11 pages

Pot smoking by teenagers is said to have doubled in a six-year period and the harm and dangers are said to be greater than widely reported, and greater than alcohol-related problems. Kids are smoking more powerful, dangerous marijuana; becoming addicted; going to high school stoned; short-term memory and learning ability are impaired, longer-term health and mental problems are unknown. From a presentation to the Senate Committee on Illegal drugs, Ottawa, October 16, 2000. Edited for publication.1. According to the annual Ontario student drug survey of representative grades seven to 12 students shows, the use of cannabis, marijuana and hallucinogens doubled during the six-year period 1993 to 1999. It has gone from around 12% to up to 24% or 26% for cannabis, and more than doubled for hallucinogens.A study conducted by me, Frank Vitaro and Richard Tremblay is a study not just of drug use by adolescents in Quebec, but also of the circumstances of use.This is a representative sample of adolescents in French language school boards throughout Quebec. Most of the adolescents were 15 to 16, and most of them were in secondary 3, secondary 4, which is the equivalent of Grade 9 or Grade 10. This is a selfreported questionnaire. We asked them about their alcohol or drug use, as well as the frequency and the circumstances. The emphasis will be, of course, on illegal drug use.Most had drunk alcohol Slightly more than half had been drunk, and about 60% had drunk alcohol more than five times.About half the girls and slightly less than half the boys had tried drugs, but about one-third had used drugs more than five times. We asked detailed questions of those who had used illegal drugs more than five times. Of course, the drug that every student had used, if they had used drugs at all, was marijuana. About 20% had tried hallucinogens, and smaller proportions had tried amphetamines, inhalants, cocaine, and other drugs.We focused on problem use. Alcohol problems iincluded driving a motor vehicle while under the influence, drunk at school, getting into fights, playing sports under the influence -- which includes things like bicycling or skateboarding -- police trouble, drank alcohol in the morning, had arguments with friends, had arguments with parents, or sought help to reduce use. Asked if they had "ever drunk while at school," close to 10% per cent of the boys and 8% girls yes said.One in four adolescents had been high on drugs at school; about 16% had been to school high occasionally, or more than occasionally, many times. This is markedly different from what we saw with alcohol. I find that to be a very disturbing figure.Most of the kids who had drunk alcohol more than five times -- about 60% of the sample -- had never been drunk at school. While they may have used alcohol, going to school drunk was not part of that use.Most kids who drank alcohol reported zero or only one of the nine problems identified with the use of drugs and alcohol. Most kids who drank,...

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