SOURCE: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University

June 18, 2008 00:01 ET

New CASA* Report Finds: Marijuana Potency up 175 Percent, Medical Diagnoses, Treatment Admissions, ER Findings for Teen Marijuana Use up Sharply

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - June 18, 2008) - Despite reported declines in teen marijuana use, in 2007 almost 11 million teens report having used marijuana. For those using the drug, four alarming trends are of grave concern for parents and teens, according to "Non-Medical Marijuana III: Rite of Passage or Russian Roulette?," a new report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

From 1992 - 2006:

--  There was a 175 percent jump in the potency of marijuana (3.2 to 8.8
    percent THC(1) concentration in seized samples).
--  There was a 492 percent increase in the proportion of teen treatment
    admissions with a medical diagnosis for marijuana abuse or dependence,
    compared with a 54 percent decline for all other substances of abuse.
--  There was a 188 percent increase in the proportion of teen treatment
    admissions for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse, compared with a 54
    percent decline for all other substances of abuse.
    

From 1995 - 2002:(2)

--  There was a 136 percent increase in the proportion of emergency
    department findings of marijuana as a major substance of abuse among teens,
    more than five times the increase in such findings for all other substances
    of abuse.
    

"The message for teens is clear -- today's pernicious pot is not your parent's pot," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA's Chairman and President and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. "The THC potency in marijuana seized in the 1970s, when marijuana use was most prevalent, was less than one percent; today such potency levels have climbed to 8.8 percent. This increased potency parallels the increases we see in teen medical diagnoses, treatment admissions and emergencies. Parents and teachers, coaches and clergy, all who work with teens, must understand that marijuana is a risky and addictive drug with serious health and social consequences."

Despite recent declines in teen marijuana use, compared to lows in 1992, the report found that in 2007 the proportion of teens who had used the drug was 27 percent higher among eighth graders, 45 percent higher among tenth graders and 28 percent higher among twelfth graders.

Other Notable Findings

--  In 2007, approximately 204,000 high-school seniors used marijuana on a
    daily basis.
--  Scientific research suggests possible associations between marijuana
    use and schizophrenia, other psychotic disorders, and other mental health
    problems.
--  CASA research has found that almost 10 million 12- to 17-year olds can
    buy marijuana within a day, and almost four and a half million can buy it
    within an hour or less.
    

"The good news is that in recent years teen marijuana use has declined. The bad news is that 10.7 million teens still report that they have used marijuana. The worst news is that teens who use the drug are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with the bullets of addiction, accidents, crime and mental illness in the chamber," noted Califano. "With all the evidence now available, simple prudence requires parents to prevent their children from using marijuana. Those parents who fail to do so are uninformed or irresponsible, or both."

For this study, CASA conducted an independent analysis of data from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (1991 - 2007), and the Treatment Episodes Data Set (1992 - 2006). CASA also looked at data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (1995 - 2002, 2004 and 2005), and Monitoring the Future (1992 - 2007) to determine trends in emergency department marijuana mentions (DAWN) and teen marijuana usage (MTF).

CASA is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA has issued 67 reports and white papers, published one book, conducted demonstration projects focused on children, families and schools at 213 sites in 84 cities and counties in 32 states plus Washington, DC and two Native American tribal reservations, and has been evaluating the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment in a variety of programs and drug courts. CASA is the creator of the nationwide initiative Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™ -- the fourth Monday in September -- the 22nd in 2008 -- that promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children's risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. In May of 2007, CASA Chairman Joseph A. Califano, Jr. called for a fundamental shift in the nation's attitude about substance abuse and addiction with the publication of his book, "HIGH SOCIETY: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It." For more information visit www.casacolumbia.org.

*The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as "CASA") or any of its member organizations, or any other organizations with the name of "CASA."

(1) Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the primary psychoactive ingredient in
    marijuana.
(2) Consistent estimates of these trends are only available from 1995 -
    2002.

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