Third of high school seniors take marijuana

High levels of use of marijuana among US teens continue unabated, show the 2012 results of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's 'Monitoring the Future' survey.

The survey also revealed declining perceptions of risk associated with marijuana use among teenagers, something which the authors say could have implications for future drug use trends.

"Whether this is more than a pause in the ongoing increase that we have seen in teen marijuana use in recent years is unclear at this point," said Lloyd Johnson (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA) in a press statement.

"One important variable that has been a lead indicator of use - namely the amount of risk teenagers perceived to be associated with marijuana use - continued its sharp decline in 2012 among teens, which would suggest further increases in use in the future."

The survey was answered by 44,449 eighth (13-14 years old), tenth (15-16 years old), and twelfth graders (17-19 years old) from 395 US schools.

The results showed that among twelfth graders, marijuana use in the previous year was reported by 36% of students, similar to the results of the 2011 survey. Furthermore, past month use has increased significantly over recent years, rising from 18.8% in 2007 to 22.9% in 2012. Among tenth-grade students, past month use rose from 14.2% to 17.0% over the same 5-year period.

The survey results also highlight the use of newer drugs such as synthetic marijuana, and "bath salts" among teenagers, which the authors say is particularly concerning because of the unknown risks associated with them.

Conversely, the use of other illicit drugs among teenagers continues to steadily decline, being reported by 5.5% of eighth graders, 10.8% of tenth graders, and 17% of twelfth graders. Furthermore, cigarette smoking and alcohol use were found at an all-time low in the survey's history.

The National Institutes for Health say that while the findings are encouraging, many concerns remain.

"These long-term declines in youth drug use in America are proof that positive social change is possible. But now more than ever we need parents and other adult influencers to step up and have direct conversations with young people about the importance of making healthy decisions," said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of US National Drug Control Policy.

Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.

Kirsty Oswald

Written by

Kirsty Oswald

Kirsty has a B.Sc. in Human Sciences from University College London. After several years working as medical copywriter, she became a medical journalist and is now freelance. Kirsty also works part-time as an editor for a London-based charity. She is particularly interested in the social and cultural aspects of science.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Oswald, Kirsty. (2018, August 23). Third of high school seniors take marijuana. News-Medical. Retrieved on October 18, 2019 from

  • MLA

    Oswald, Kirsty. "Third of high school seniors take marijuana". News-Medical. 18 October 2019. <>.

  • Chicago

    Oswald, Kirsty. "Third of high school seniors take marijuana". News-Medical. (accessed October 18, 2019).

  • Harvard

    Oswald, Kirsty. 2018. Third of high school seniors take marijuana. News-Medical, viewed 18 October 2019,


  1. Gatewood Gatewood United States says:

    Telling teenagers that pot is on par with heroin and that cocaine is less harmful (sched 3 v sced 4), is like telling them masterbation causes blindness. By experimentation they find both are a lie. Marijuana is a mild stimulant that can be used by a trained Doctor to alleviate many ailments, and by the well as a recreational aide far less harmfully than alchohol.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
Post a new comment
You might also like... ×
The talk seniors need to have with doctors before surgery