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National rise in pot use hits Minnesota, too

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A bowl of medicinal marijuana was displayed in a booth at The International Cannabis and Hemp Expo April 18, 2010, at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Calif.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The legalization of marijuana in Washington State and Colorado has made the drug a household presence in some parts of the country. And experts say that reflects a change in drug use across the country, including Minnesota. 

Carol Falkowski is president and CEO of Drug Abuse Dialogues, and has been among Minnesota's pre-eminent researchers on the prevalence of drug use.

She said on MPR's The Daily Circuit she believes drug use in Minnesota reflects national trends, such as National Institutes of Health's Monitoring the Future survey.

  "This survey is done every year, and it's really looked at as the snapshot of drug use among kids," she said. "And it found from 2012 to 2013 that marijuana use went up among eighth- and 10th-graders and it held steady among high school seniors. Now it's over a third of high school seniors who have used marijuana in the past year."

Experts say changing social norms about marijuana use may be part of what kids weigh as they decide whether or not to experiment with marijuana.

The federal survey of American adolescents  shows that fewer young people think regular use of the drug poses great risk to their health.  

Sixty percent of seniors said they didn't think regular use of the drug was harmful. 

About 36 percent of U.S. high school seniors and 12 percent of eighth-graders reported smoking marijuana in the past year, according to the Monitoring the Future survey. About 6.5 percent of seniors said they smoke daily. That's up from 6 percent in 2003 and 2.4 percent in 1993.

From The New York Times:

The report raises concerns that the relaxation of restrictions on marijuana, which can now be sold legally in 20 states and the District of Columbia, has been influencing use of the drug among teenagers. Health officials are concerned by the steady increase and point to what they say is a growing body of evidence that adolescent brains, which are still developing, are susceptible to subtle changes caused by marijuana.

"The acceptance of medical marijuana in multiple states leads to the sense that if it's used for medicinal purposes, then it can't be harmful," said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which issued the report. "This survey has shown very consistently that the greater the number of kids that perceive marijuana as risky, the less that smoke it." Starting early next year, recreational marijuana use will also be legal in Colorado and Washington.