The study, which consisted of a survey of nearly 7,500 students, found that while a significant number of high school seniors reported using marijuana, the majority is use alcohol, which is causing some teens to engage in unsafe behaviors, like drinking and driving.
"The most alarming finding was that alcohol use was highly associated with unsafe driving, especially among frequent drinkers," said lead researcher Dr. Joseph J. Palamar. "Compared to non-drinkers, frequent drinkers were over 13 times more likely to report that their alcohol use has led to unsafe driving. Marijuana users, compared to non-users, were three times more likely to report unsafe driving as a direct result of use."
In addition, the study found that female students who use alcohol reported engaging in more regretful behaviors than those who used marijuana. "Not unexpectedly, we found that the higher the frequency of use, the higher the risk of reporting an adverse outcome," said Dr. Palamar. "In particular, the relationship between frequent alcohol use and regret was much stronger than the relationship between frequent marijuana use and regret."
Unfortunately, students who get hammered drunk and engage in dumb ass activities are less likely to face negative perceptions from teachers and other authority figures than the stoners. This is largely due to society viewing teenage alcohol consumption as just a part of growing up, while most adults still associate marijuana use with “bad” behavior. Researchers say this is likely the reason marijuana users reported getting into more trouble with the police than those who use alcohol.
"As a controlled substance, mere possession of marijuana may increase the risk of significant legal consequences compared to an age-restricted legal substance such as alcohol, so this was not unexpected," said Dr. Palamar. "Smoking marijuana also tends to leave a strong odor, which can easily draw attention to authorities. However, we found no racial differences with regard to getting in trouble with police because of marijuana use. Results might have been different if we focused on older individuals or only those who reside in big cities."
Researchers conclude that the negative perceptions surrounding marijuana are likely a product of its legal status and the stereotypes that have developed throughout the years. "We hope that the findings of this study will contribute to the ongoing debate on marijuana policy and its perceived harm when compared to alcohol," said Dr. Palamar.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.