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CDC: Tobacco Use Decreased by 64 Percent Among High School Students Since 1997 
But Marijuana Use Doubled 
 
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzes tobacco and marijuana use among white, African American, and Hispanic students in grades 9 through 12 from 1997 to 2013. The data come from CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) conducted every two years.
 
The good news is that student use of cigarettes and cigars has declined 64 percent, from 20.5 percent in 1997 to 7.4 percent in 2013. The bad news is that marijuana use more than doubled during that time, from 4.2 percent to 10.2 percent.
 
Further, marijuana use among students who also used cigarettes or cigars increased from 51.2 percent to 62.4 percent over that time, with even higher increases towards the end of the study period among African American and Hispanic students.
 
The use of marijuana among those who used cigarettes or cigars did not change among Hispanic students from 1997 to 2007, but then escalated from 54.9 percent to 73.6 percent in 2013. African American students’ marijuana use among those who used cigarettes and cigars held steady until 2009, but increased even further, from 66.4 percent then to 82 percent in 2013.
 
When tobacco and marijuana are used together, the likelihood of harm to individuals, including cognitive, psychological, respiratory, and addiction problems, also increases.
 
The substantial 64 percent decline in cigarette and cigar use among students took place as the result of evidence-based strategies such as increasing tobacco product prices, adopting comprehensive smoke-free policies, and conducting national public education media campaigns.
 
Read “Cigarette, Cigar, and Marijuana Use Among High School Students—United States—1997-2013” here.
 
Want a Guarantee to Obtain a License to Grow Pot? Give Local Officials an Equity Deal
 
A new twist on the lengths the marijuana industry is willing to go to get what it wants is taking place in the town of Hancock, Maryland. The state will issue only 15 licenses to grow marijauna for medical use. So one Arizona-based company, Harvest, will give the town of Hancock a 5 percent equity share of its business if it receives a license to grow and process marijauna.
 
“What it means for the community is dollars,” says the town’s mayor. If Harvest is successful, the town of Hancock will receive 5 percent of Harvest’s profits.
 
In Colorado, which began implementing legal marijuana in 2014, some 75 percent of local jurisdictions have banned pot shops within their borders. This means that three-fourths of the states’ communities don’t want legal pot in their areas. But if sharing equity with local officials becomes a trend, the desires of citizens in Colorado and elsewhere may be overruled by their political leaders.

Read story here.
 
Pot Shop Teams Up With Prevention Group
to Prevent Youth Marijuana Use
 
Colorado’s Organic Alternatives, a marijauna shop, will join up with Team Fort Collins, a substance-abuse prevention organization that originally opposed legalization. Team Fort Collins is expanding its Responsible Alcohol Program to include tobacco and marijuana shops and will rename it the Responsible Association of Retailers.
 
The program conducts “secret shopping” to test whether retailers are asking for ID to purchase alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. If they aren’t, they are notified and given the opportunity to correct the issue but are not reported to law enforcement.
 
It also trains retailers to educate customers about how to store marijuana out of the reach of children.
 
While well-intentioned, the program may not produce the effects hoped for.
 
First, the secret shopping effort should be done in coordination with law enforcement so that retailers face real and swift consequences if they break Colorado law by selling to underage young people. Suspending or revoking a shop’s operating license on first or second offense, respectively, is effective at stopping such illegal behavior. A friendly note calling attention to the offense by an industry/citizen’s group is not likely to get the same result.
 
Second, the very evidence-based strategies that drove underage tobacco use down 64 percent in less than two decades are not likely to be embraced by commercial industries that sell tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana.
 
The tobacco industry continues to fight any increase in tobacco taxes and spends billions each year to reduce costs to wholesalers and retailers to counteract tobacco taxes so it can lower, not raise, prices.
 
Marijuana proponents who wrote public smoking bans into their ballot initiatives now push against bans in states that legalized.
 
And a national public education campaign about the harmful effects of marijuana on children is as likely to be embraced by the marijuana industry as a campaign on the harmful effects of tobacco would be embraced by the tobacco industry.
 
Read story here.
 
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter produced by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy. 

SAM has four main goals: 
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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