COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest information from CDC ( | NIH Resources | NIDA Resources

Drugs & Health Blog

Nationwide Survey Shows Fewer Teens Think Marijuana Is Harmful

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Today, NIDA released the latest results from the 2013 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, which asks more than 40,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders about drug, alcohol, and cigarette use. The study revealed both good news and areas for concern.

First of all, scientists are concerned that only about 40% of 12th graders—that’s 4 out of every 10 teens—believe using marijuana regularly can hurt you. That’s 60% who think marijuana is not harmful! This perception that marijuana use is “okay” is tied to the increases in teens’ use of the drug over the past several years. Science shows that regular marijuana use can be harmful to your health and your future. THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can damage the developing teen brain, yet teens aren’t understanding the connection between marijuana use and the brain’s ability to learn.

Marijuana use is also putting teens at risk for car accidents—since the drug impairs motor coordination and reaction time. With medical marijuana becoming more accepted and some states making marijuana legal to use, it’s difficult to get these messages to teens.

There’s other news that worries scientists too: Teens continue to abuse Adderall at a high rate. That drug is usually prescribed for people with ADHD—and when used as prescribed, it can really help. But more than 7% of high school seniors say they use Adderall to get high or for other nonmedical reasons.

But the survey tells us that teens are getting smarter about a lot of drug use. Cigarette smoking and alcohol use continued to decline in 2013. Also, fewer teens used K2/Spice (sometimes called synthetic marijuana), inhalants, cocaine, and heroin. Fewer teens are abusing prescription painkillers like Vicodin, and very few teens are using bath salts.

One last note: While cigarette smoking is down, too many teens are still “smoking” by using a hookah (water pipe)—in fact, more than 1 in 5 seniors say they have used a hookah in the past year. Tobacco is no less harmful in a hookah.

How would you tell other teens that marijuana is, in fact, harmful to their health? How would you change their minds if they think marijuana is harmless? How would you explain to teens that smoking a hookah is just as bad for their health as smoking a cigarette?

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Hi, I'm a student in university and I believe your article to be quite right, teens do think marijuana is not very harmfull and as a matter of fact, alcohol is much more dangerous then pot. But students also know that pot and driving don't go together. What they might not realise however is the effect pot has on the brain. It gets harder and harder to concentrate more then a few minutes in class or on homework if you smoke pot regularly, even if it's only once every day. This has true consequences: teachers usally notice the lack of attention wich means he gets into trouble, it's only a matter of time. I used to smoke a little bit of pot myself, but I saw friends who had issues in their lives because of it so I became webmaster and stopped smoking.
I am now a junior in high school, and I've never felt so pressured to be like everyone else in my life. I'm constantly looked down upon because I don't smoke pot, and it's to the point where I'm starting to lose friends because of it. People are always telling me that it is completely harmless, but my instincts are telling me other wise. But everytime I think I'm going to give in to it and I feel that my life would be easier if I did, I think of my future and then I try to think what my friends that do smoke pot futures would look like and I just stop myself. I want to thank you guys for making this blog and letting me know I'm not alone.
Marijuana MAY be harmful. But, if you are a developed adult, or honestly over the age of 16. I think everyone should have the CHOICE whether they would like to use or not.
I think this aswell. There should be a time when you have choise to use or not.
You developed adult over 21 not over 16. Just saying, do your research. Before age of21 it slows your brain development.
The brain is definitely still developing at 16. It's still developing until 25. We all look back and wonder why we made impulsive decisions in our late teens and early 20s. The reason is our brains weren't fully developed yet, they didn't have the ability to make the sort of sound decisions you make as an adult. It just not worth it to smoke (or drink) when your brain is still forming. People should wait and smoke at 25 and your mental health will thank you for it.
I honestly think there are good drugs, and bad drugs. Marijuana is more of a good drug. This is my belief because it helps cure symptoms of cancer. Plus, the worst you could do "high" is eat alot of food and listen to music or watch a movie. Alcohol on the other hand is LEGAL and and yet you can do so much worse then eat Cheetos and relax. (No Reply)
A drug being good for curing diseases does not make it, in any way, good for recreational use. If someone without cancer took chemotherapy they would be seriously ill, as cancer patients are too. Even people who take marijuana for relief of symptoms risk side effects, like all medication.