In a recent article, VICE magazine, in collaboration with MedPage Today has published a suspiciously weird interpretation of a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). What caught our attention was the title of the article that suggests, to an untrained eye, how teens in America are about to loose their mind over smoking marijuana. But if you think about this question for a second, you’ll quickly realize that the majority of all Americans would have the same answer to it. The question was: “do you think it’s safe to smoke cannabis once a month?”
77 Percent of American Teens Now Believe It’s Safe to Smoke Weed
With this headline, VICE started their article. Not only does the headline invoke one of the main fears that prohibitionists try to promote to combat legalization, but the whole piece doesn’t mention a single word on other findings of the survey, such as significant differences in methods between surveys – the report contains data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Monitoring the Future (MTF), and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The reports generally show that the percentage of adolescents in the United States who used marijuana decreased from the early 2000s to the mid- to late-2000s and then increased gradually in more recent years. The percentage for MTF decreased significantly from 2013 to 2014. Overall, and it is evident from the chart, the trend of marijuana use among adolescents in the United States is decreasing.
So This Is Journalism
Behavioral Health Barometer is a snapshot of addiction and mental health across America. VICE has for some reason decided not to include the link to the Barometer itself in their article or to contact any of the folks who created the report. Instead, they contacted Dr. Richard Rosenthal at Mount Sinai Hospital, who wasn’t even involved in the making of the report. However, he was quick to share his opinion for VICE News: “As more states go toward having medical marijuana and having legalized marijuana, that creates a public perception — including among our impressionable youth — that it’s safe.” Somehow, they forgot to mention that according to report, those same teens have the same opinion about alcohol – they think it’s probably safe to have a glass of an alcoholic drink once a month. Who doesn’t?
If we’re going to say something objective about this report, then we should say that even though at first sight it might be obvious that teens are having more relaxed attitude towards occasional consumption of marijuana, that was a very reasonable answer to an unreasonable question. As Patrick High, epidemiologist who actually works with SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, tells Behavioral Healthcare there was something more interesting in this report, and that is a trend that shows reduction in the use of cigarettes, the use of relievers, the use of marijuana and in binge drinking – by adolescents aged 12 to 17. Why has VICE failed to mention that?