Pot vs. Alcohol: What Teens Prefer

December 15 2010, 10:00 AM

Marijuana is back in vogue among teenagers for the first time since the early 1980s, with more high school seniors reporting that they're more likely to toke than smoke a cigarette, according to the annual "Monitoring the Future" survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which also contains indications that even younger students have softer attitudes toward the drug (via the Los Angeles Times). More than 21 percent of high school seniors said they'd used marijuana in the last month, and Gil Kerlikowske, President Barack Obama's drug czar, blames state marijuana laws—such as the one that legalizes cannabis for medical use in Colorado—for making pot seem less dangerous to younger Americans. 

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, claims increased accessibility of the drug through dispensaries has increased use among kids. "This report highlights one of the side effects of the increasing social acceptance of medical marijuana and the ramifications of its widespread use," Suthers says (via the Denver Daily News). But Mason Tvert, the executive director of the pro-marijuana group SAFER, thinks it's good that alcohol use has declined among teens. "We would all like teens to remain drug-free," Tvert says (via The Denver Post). "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."

Meanwhile, the battles between dispensaries and local governments continue, with Adams County recently banning dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county (via The Denver Post), while the Colorado Springs City Council has relaxed its zoning regulations on the industry (via the Independent).