In an ongoing study of American high school students, 22.5 percent of seniors reported smoking pot in the past month. That’s higher than the percentage of seniors who reporting smoking cigarettes (10.5 percent) or vaping (13 percent), and weed’s popularity is reflected in their conversations.
Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told STAT, “If you ask if they smoke, they think you mean marijuana.”
While the percentage of high school seniors smoking pot has remained stable since 2011, use among eighth and tenth graders has declined. This year’s results also found cigarette smoking was at the lowest levels recorded since the study began. For the first time, it also saw a decline in the number of students using e-cigarettes. In the past year, vaping dropped from 16 percent to 13 percent among twelfth graders, from 14 percent to 11 percent among tenth graders, and from 8 percent to 6 percent among eighth graders. Students in all three grades reported less alcohol use.
What’s inspiring all this good behavior? Volkow thinks social media and video games may be keeping kids busy at home, where they’re less likely to feel peer pressure. She doesn’t have the data to back this up yet, but told USA Today, “There may be a protective effect brought about by the fact that they don’t have so many occasions to get together where the use of drugs would be facilitated.”
Researchers at the University of Michigan polled more than 45,000 eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders for the Monitoring the Future study, now in its 42nd year.