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Substance Abuse

Study Finds Dangerous Trend in Marijuana Acceptance Among Teens

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Teens are increasingly becoming less concerned about the possible dangers presented by the abuse of marijuana, according to a study commissioned by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The study analyzed data provided by nearly 2,300 11th and 12th graders nationwide. The researchers determined that the number of teens who said that marijuana use is “very” or “extremely” distracting to their driving went down to 70 percent, from 78 percent in 2009. In addition, it was found that of the teens who admitted to driving after using pot, 36 percent say that it was not a distraction to their driving. Nineteen percent, on the other hand, say that alcohol was not a distraction to their driving.

Stephen Wallace, senior adviser for Policy, Research, and Education at SADD, said that the findings reflect “a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago.”

Wallace shared further that they “hear from young people who believe that marijuana actually makes them a safer driver, that they concentrate harder, drive slower.” He warns, however, that these are all misconceptions, saying that pot “affects memory, judgment, and perception,” as well as lead a driver to make bad decisions.

Tom Hedrick, founding member of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, shared that the study points out the need to spread more awareness about the dangers associated with marijuana impairment, and serves as “a wake-up call for parents about the importance” of talking to teens about the dangers of pot.