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Marijuana use down among teens, up among their parents

Body Parents, it looks like you might have some explaining to do.

For the first time since 2002, people aged 35 to 44 are more likely to use marijuana regularly than Americans aged 12 to 17, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention discovered in October.

The survey showed that 7.4 percent of teenagers regularly smoke pot, a 10 percent decrease since 2002, while 8 percent of 35- to 45-year-olds are regular tokers.

This follows trending opinions that marijuana is not as dangerous as we were once led to believe. Combined with loosening restrictions on marijuana in several states, it seems that a whole new world has opened up to older generations.

Since 2002, marijuana use is up 455 percent among those 55 to 64 years old, and up 333 percent among people 65 and older.

When marijuana was legalized in Oregon in 2014, it was like a switch flipped in my parents, both seniors, and all the negative morality surrounding pot use disappeared. Now, they are regular users.

Their preferred method of consumption is marijuana vaping or eating gummies, since neither are prone to smoking.

My step-father doesn't consume alcohol and my mother only drinks occasionally, so marijuana provides for them a viable alternative for something to come home and relax to.

Holiday breaks back home have become much more interesting, as have my mother's candid comments on her cannabis use.

One of my favorite recent holiday memories is returning home for Christmas, ordering a pizza and renting some forgettable comedy with my mom. We smoked some pot, munched on pizza and laughed at the kind of jokes that are only funny if you're high until our sides ached.

Another age group is trending in the opposite direction. Kids from age 12 to 17 are increasingly less likely to consume marijuana for the third year in a row, according to the CDC report and a study from the University of Michigan.

The CDC numbers found that 13.1 percent of teenagers used marijuana in the past year in 2014, down from 14.2 percent in 2011.

More recent data has found that 44.5 percent of 12th-graders have smoked marijuana at some point in their life in 2016, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future report. That's down from 45.5 percent in 2013.

Even greater decreases in prevalence of lifetime use have been seen among eighth- and 10th-graders. Among eighth-graders, 16.5 percent had been found to have smoked marijuana at some point in their life in 2013, compared to 12.8 percent this year.

For 10th-graders, 35.8 percent had smoked marijuana in their lifetime in 2013 and now only 29.7 percent can say the same.

This data seems to conflict with the report's findings that far fewer eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders see greater risk in using marijuana or disapprove of using it regularly now than 10 years ago.

Though it may have something to do with them believing marijuana isn't as easy to get as it once was, as perceived availability is down for the fourth year in a row since 2012.

Older generations' trends in use follow the marijuana opinion polls from the Pew Research Center, which has seen increasing approval across the board. Perhaps it's their parents' example that is driving down use among teens, or an increasing societal emphasis on responsible use.

Either way, it may become a difficult argument that marijuana is harming or becoming more accessible to our children if data continues to suggest decreasing use and availability even as more and more states move to legalize marijuana both medically and recreationally.

On the up side, "do as I say, not as I do" may be gaining some credibility after all.

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