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Study Points to High Use of Marijuana by 12th Graders


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — One in 15 high school seniors are regular marijuana users. That’s according to the Monitoring the Future study out of the National Institutes of Health. This matches last year’s record high in the study’s 35 year history.

The perceived risk of smoking marijuana also dropped sharply. Eleanor Berch-Heyman, Youth Residential Program Director at Phoenix House, a drug and rehabilitation program, said the more that teens see other teens using marijuana, the safer they think it is.

“They look to their peers in terms of assessing risk,” Berch-Heyman. “That adds to it being perceived as normal instead of a risky behavior.”.

Berch-Heyman says legalizing medical marijuana in some states could also make marijuana seem more normal. As far as curbing use, she says it’s starts with understanding teens anywhere are at risk.

“People that have a lot of resources, a lot of family support and a lot of family stability to individuals with a lot of family disruption to individuals who don’t have economic privilege, substance use and dependence, and it becoming a problem that’s really derailing somebody’s life, really knows no boundaries like that,” said Berch-Heyman

Some positive trends found in the study include a drop in cigarette smoking continued among all surveyed grades, 8th, 10th and 12th. Alcohol use mostly showed declines or remained the same as 2011.

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