Teen Marijuana Use on the Rise - 8 News NOW

Teen Marijuana Use on the Rise

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LAS VEGAS - An alarming study finds more teens are smoking marijuana. The same study also reveals no progress in the battle of illegal prescription drug use.

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Nearly 1.5 million teens admit to heavily smoking pot in the past month. Heavy use is considered smoking at least 20 times.

"There's definitely a breakdown in terms of who the marijuana users are and teens that are heavy users," said Roseman University associate professor Paul Oesterman. "We're finding there's an increase in the Hispanic community, little less in African American community and a little less in the Caucasian community."

Oesterman says the latest numbers are disturbing, because heavy marijuana users are significantly more likely to use other illicit drugs like cocaine and ecstasy.

The results, released by DrugFree.org and the MetLife Foundation, also found 42% of teens – or approximately 4 million teens - say they have used marijuana in the past month. Oesterman says parents are key players in the battle against drugs.

"I think we need to get back to getting much more parental involvement, keep an eye on their kids, know what they're doing and just stay involved. Parents need to know what they're doing, who they're doing it with, where, why they're doing it," he said.

The national survey also finds teen marijuana use has become a normalized behavior. Teens report seeing more of their peers smoking marijuana. Seventy-one percent of teens have friends who use pot regularly. That's up seven percent from 2008.

Despite the increase in marijuana use, more teens are abusing prescription drugs than using pot. The number of teens abusing prescription medicine, however, remains unchanged. One of the big factors is parents safeguarding or locking up their pills.

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