A new national survey released by Monitoring the Future – an organization funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse – and conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, has found that teenagers are shunning synthetic substances meant to mimic cannabis, such as K2 and Spice, and are replacing them by smoking more actual cannabis. The survey was of more than 40,000 teenagers in three different grades (8th, 10th and 12th).
According to the survey, the number of high school seniors using synthetic cannabis dropped significantly from 2012 to 2013, from over 11% down to 8%, an almost 50% drop.
The number of seniors using cannabis, however, is up. In 2013, 1 in 15 seniors reported using cannabis daily; that number was 1 in 50 in 1993.
25% of seniors reported using cannabis in the past month, and 36% in the past year. For sophomores, 30% have consumed cannabis in the past year, and 18% in the past month; 4% report consuming it daily. All of these numbers are up from last year, while the use of synthetic cannabis is down among all age groups.
For many cannabis reform advocates this new survey is good news, as cannabis is much safer than synethtic substances. “It’s important to keep in mind that marijuana pales in comparison to alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants and pharmaceutical drugs in terms of dangers to young people,” says Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Police Alliance. “Indeed”, he says, “for many young people, the worst consequences of marijuana involve arrest for marijuana possession, not its consumption.”