December 22, 2005 - Washington, DC, USA
Washington, DC: Nearly half of all high school seniors report having tried marijuana, and 86 percent say that cannabis is "very easy" or "fairly easy to get," according to annual government survey data released this week by the University of Michigan. Both figures are nearly identical to the percentages reported by the government when it first began collecting data in 1975.
"The federal 'spin' on this data is that teen marijuana use is falling due to the enactment of government prohibitionist policies; however, the reality is that - according to the government's own data - teen use and access to cannabis is virtually no different now than it was 30 years ago," said NORML Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano.
According to the University of Michigan's annual "Monitoring the Future" data, 47 percent of high school seniors reported having used marijuana and/or hashish in 1975. Today this figure stands at 45 percent. Likewise, 89 percent of seniors reported having access to pot in 1975 versus 86 percent today.
"In 1975, the federal government spent less than a billion dollars annually on 'drug war' related activities; today it spends over $20 billion, including several hundred million per year on advertising alone," Armentano said. "Yet neither this massive increase in federal spending nor the enforcement of criminal prohibition has done a thing to curb adolescents' use of cannabis or their access to the drug. Rather than stay the course, government officials ought to take a page from their more successful public health campaigns to discourage drunk driving and adolescent tobacco smoking - both of which have been significantly reduced in recent years.
"Our nation has not achieved these results by banning the use of alcohol and tobacco, or by targeting and arresting adults who use these products responsibly, but through honest, health and science-based education campaigns. Until the federal government applies these same common-sense principles to the responsible use of cannabis, America will be looking at another 30 years of failing pot policies."