Study: Teens smoking pot instead of cigarettes

VANDERBURGH CO, IN (WFIE) - A new study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse shows more teens are now smoking pot than cigarettes.

Authorities are not surprised by the numbers, but hope something is done about them.

Vanderburgh County Chief Deputy Dave Wedding says, "It's a drug that alters the brain and that's concerning because sometimes I think these kids don't understand the risks that they are taking."

This year more than two percent of high school seniors in a national survey said they had used marijuana in a one month period.

Researchers say seniors using marijuana daily is at its highest level since the early 80's.

It's not just high school students, however.  The report shows more eighth graders are also using pot and use among tenth graders is also rising.

Locally, a 2009 survey put pot use by eighth and tenth graders higher than the national average, and the number of twelfth graders using pot is higher than the state's average.

Dr. William Wooten with Youth First says, "Seven point eight-percent of eighth graders, 15-percent of tenth graders, and 20.5 percent of twelfth graders had used marijuana in the past month."

The exact reason for the increase is unknown. Students did say they felt there was less risks in using pot, and less disapproval from the public.  Students also said it was easier to get marijuana.

Wedding is urging parents to take an active role in the lives of their children, and urges them to talk to their kids about the use of marijuana and other drugs.

Law enforcement is trying to get more DARE, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education officers in the schools.

Wedding says, "Maybe if we can just grab 20 to 30 students that might be headed down the wrong path and change their direction, I think we'd be a pretty good success story."

While marijuana use is on the rise, teen alcohol use in 2010 has declined.

Deputies want to remind teenagers that possession, sale, or cultivation of marijuana is illegal.

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