More US youths smoking pot: survey

Marijuana consumption among American adolescents aged 13 to 18 rose again in 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse said in an annual report Tuesday.

The debate over the legalization of marijuana in states like California, which ended up rejecting it, had considerable impact on young people's perception of the drug, the report suggests.

The survey, titled "Monitoring the Future," was conducted among 46,000 students in the eighth grade (13 to 14 years old), 10th grade (15 to 16), and 12th grade (17 to 18).

It found that 6.1 percent of 12th grade students admitted to regularly using marijuana, an increase from 5.2 percent last year.

Students in 10th grade who reported using marijuana rose to 3.3 percent from 2.8 percent last year, while eighth grade users rose to 1.2 percent from one percent.

Responses to the survey were made anonymously.

"In front of us, we are seeing an increase in marijuana daily use, which is... the one that has the most adverse effects," Nora Volkow, the institute's director, said at a news conference.

"The information is particularly disturbing regarding youth use, particularly among eighth graders," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Kerlikowske, following a broad review of anti-drug policy, announced an ambitious goal in May of reducing marijuana consumption by youths by 15 percent in the next five years.

The goal will not be changed as a result of the latest survey findings, said Kerlikowske, whose office has asked for a 13 percent increase in prevention programs to nearly 640 million dollars in 2011.

He criticized the California campaign to legalize marijuana, which was debated for months before it was defeated in a referendum last month, as sending "a terrible message."

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