Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Kids Are (Mostly) Alright

The results of the annual Monitoring the Future survey of middle and high school students for 2014 were primarily good news overall.  Alcohol and tobacco use both dropped to record 40-year lows, and cannabis use saw the first decrease in years after steadily increasing since 2007.  Other drugs, both illicit and prescription, saw either decreases or no significant change in 2014, and most of those remained well below their most recent peaks.  Dangerous quasi-legal synthetic "designer drugs", such as "K2" (synthetic cannabis) and "bath salts", have plummeted to the lowest levels since they have first been measured.  And there was no substance that saw any significant increases in 2014.

One thing that makes such results remarkable is that 2014 was the first year that cannabis was fully legalized in Colorado and Washington, with a few more states on the way as well.  And there is currently zero evidence that any of the prohibitionists' fears have actually materialized.  Another remarkable observation is the fact that "extreme binge drinking" (i.e. 10+ drinks in the same occasion at least once in the past two weeks) among high school seniors has finally dropped to the lowest level since it was first recorded in 2005.  For example, from 2005-2011, it remained flat at 11%, and from 2011-2014 it had dropped by more than a third to 7%.  And lest you erroneously think that the longstanding 21 drinking age (or tougher enforcement thereof) is somehow the cause of that drop, significant decreases in teen drinking have also occurred in other countries where the drinking age is still 18.

But don't expect to hear such good news from the fearmongering mainstream media, of course.