Former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, now the nation's drug czar, thinks he knows why pot use among teens is higher than it's been in decades. And his old stomping ground, Washington state, is apparently part of the problem.
"We have been telling young people, particularly for the past couple years, that marijuana is medicine," Kerlikowske told ABC News. "So it shouldn't be a great surprise to us that young people are now misperceiving the dangers or the risks around marijuana."
And, in a statement put out today, the drug czar urged parents to counteract "mixed messages" about pot.
Of course, you might say that the administration he's part of is sending mixed messages. On the one hand, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the feds will de-emphasize medical marijuana cases. On the other, Kerlikowske has continued to sound the alarm about any kind of pot, medical or otherwise. Kerlikowske and his staff can't even bring themselves to use the phrase medical marijuana without putting the word medical in quotation marks, as in this blog post put out by his office today.
The survey that's prompting this tsk-tsking from the drug czar was conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Approximately 21 percent of high school seniors surveyed used marijuana in the past 30 days--slightly more than the number of seniors who smoked cigarettes in the prior month. Now, if only Camel could claim to alleviate back pain, it might have an even better marketing campaign than the one promoting Seattle cool.