It’s not because teens are consuming weed more, it’s because they’re using tobacco and alcohol less
Teens used to try alcohol first, then tobacco, and then marijuana. Now, marijuana is increasingly the first “gateway” substance for adolescents, according to new research.
This trend is not because teens are smoking cannabis more than ever. Rather, the change is because teens are smoking cigarettes and drinking less while the numbers for marijuana have held steady, according to Katherine M. Keyes, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University and co-author of the new study, published this week in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
“As we’ve seen the dramatic declines in alcohol and tobacco, we haven’t seen dramatic declines in marijuana, so now every year it’s more and more likely that kids are starting their drug-use careers with marijuana,” says Keyes. She adds that rates of teen drinking and smoking started to fall — thanks largely to widespread public health campaigns — long before the recent wave of pro-marijuana lobbying.
Most likely, this trend will continue as marijuana becomes less stigmatized and more and more states vote to legalize the drug. Though teens aren’t supposed to smoke marijuana even in the states that have fully legalized it, “it’s not going out on a huge limb to suggest that marijuana is going to be more available at a lower cost to adolescents,” says Keyes. “If you make a substance more available at a lower cost and easier to access, you’re gonna see increases.” After all, it’s also illegal for kids to drink or smoke, but many easily find both alcohol and cigarettes in their own homes.
Comment: Education and Legislation work to shift culture better than ‘education’ alone. Our emerging generation are the first in 120 years to grow up with the strong and uncompromising message that ‘tobacco is bad, but marijuana is medicine!’… No surprise as to how that ‘education’ is leading the generation, as this research further validates! Dalgarno Institute