12/15/2011 04:17 pm ET

Attorney General John Suthers: Increasing Use Of Marijuana Amongst Teens Should Concern Everyone

The lure of alcohol and cigarettes among teens has found a competitor this year: marijuana. And it's a finding that everybody should be concerned about, according to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.

A recent news release by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that marijuana use is up by at least 27.5 percent among 10th and 12th graders from last year while teen alcohol consumption and cigarette use are at historic lows. The findings appear to show that more teens are abusing marijuana rather than turning to cigarettes, and that this trend is due to a corresponding perceived lack of risk.

Last month The Huffington Post reported on a separate survey released by the Archives of General Psychiatry found that black and Asian adolescents were less likely to use drugs or alcohol than teens of other races.

In addition to asking about marijuana, alcohol and tobacco usage, the NIDA survey also included a question about synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or spice, for the first time this year and found that 11.4 percent of 12th-graders reported using in the past year. Not a whole lot is yet known about synthetic marijuana except that tests have shown that it appears to have the same effect on the brain as THC -- the active ingredient in marijuana -- but the chemicals are undetectable in THC drug tests. It's sold as an incense and there is still not a credible way to determine all the ingredients put into it.

"These trends are especially concerning given the research on the effects of marijuana use on the teenage brain," Suthers said in a statement today. Suthers is widely regarded as being a critic of Colorado's growing marijuana culture and against the legalization of marijuana. "The increasing accessibility and acceptability of marijuana for teenagers in Colorado should be of concern to all of us."

This study, released Wednesday, comes after Public Policy Polling released a study showing that 49 percent of Coloradans favor the legalization of marijuana, and rumors that Colorado may be next in line for a federal crackdown on medical marijuana facilities.


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