Marijuana gaining in popularity among teens

Marijuana gaining in popularity among teens

AMARILLO, TX - For the first time in history, more teens are turning to marijuana over cigarettes according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It's estimated 1 in 3 high school teens have either tried marijuana or smoke it on a daily basis.

"There is a low perception of harm," LaViza Matthews with Impact Futures said. "People think it's natural but they forget about the 400 other chemicals in the drug."

Teens may be more attracted to marijuana now more than ever with skyrocketing prices on cigarettes.

Over the past five years, tight regulations and stiff taxes have increased cigarette prices by $2 to $3 more per pack.

Anti-tobacco television ads circulating across the nation also appear to be working.

"They are very effective," Matthews said. "Since tobacco is legal, you can have advocates regulate the tobacco industry."

But since marijuana is illegal in the state of Texas, we don't have any regulations.

This means you'll find different qualities of marijuana being sold on the streets.

The true danger is that you don't know what's inside.

"It seems like no matter how we educate and what we talk about, there's just a perception of safety regarding marijuana," Melynn Huntley with Safe Schools, Healthy Children said. "It's one of our biggest obstacles to overcome"

Another misconception is that marijuana doesn't have the same bad health effects tobacco carries.

"You can still get lung cancer," Matthews added. "People think that only taking two hits off something is going to make a big difference, but it's not. There are still a lot of cancer causing agents inside marijuana."

Newly released CDC stats do not include usage of synthetic drugs.

A bill to ban such narcotics has already passed through both the House and Senate.

A nationwide ban is anticipated to come this summer.