12/20/2013 04:23 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

DEA's Anti-Pot Campaign Is Losing Teens Thanks To State Legalization Efforts


WASHINGTON -- The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration is blaming the legalization of marijuana in certain states for the fact that an increasing number of American high school seniors don't see regular pot use as harmful.

"The mixed messages being sent to America's teens about the harmfulness and legality of using record-high-potency marijuana are obscuring kids' awareness of the effects their use will have on them," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement on Friday.

A survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health this week found that just shy of 40 percent of high school seniors viewed regular marijuana use as harmful, down from more than 44 percent in 2012. The survey also found that 36 percent of high school seniors said they had smoked marijuana in the preceding year, compared to 12 percent of eighth-graders.

"Those who aspire to see their own or others' children accomplish great things in life or who want to live in a nation of increasing prosperity should be very concerned about the increase in marijuana use by teenagers, including the fact that a staggering 12 percent of 13 and 14-year-olds are abusing the drug," Leonhart said.

Washington and Colorado recently legalized recreational marijuana use for adults, and the Justice Department has said it will allow the states' regulatory systems to go forward.



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