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December 20, 2016

Report: Marijuana, alcohol usage among younger teens significantly declines in recent years

Marijuana usage among eighth- and 10th-graders has taken a nosedive in the last couple of years – for high school seniors, however, it's a different story, according to one recent study.

The national study from the University of Michigan, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, surveyed about 45,000 students from the three grades at about 380 public and private secondary schools across the country. It found mostly positive results.

Researchers said that ultimately, teen usage of drugs, alcohol and tobacco "declined significantly" in the last year, reaching their lowest rates since the 1990s.

About 9 percent of eighth-graders said they smoked pot in the last year, while 24 percent of 10th-graders said the same, according to the University of Michigan study published last week.

Those rates have been gradually decreasing since 2010 for eighth-graders and for 10th-graders since 2013.

About 36 percent of 12th-graders surveyed, however, said that they've used in the last year, a steady percentage since 2011, according to the study.

Alcohol usage for all three grades is also declining to historic lows in the study's 42-year history, according to researchers.

Three percent of eighth-graders self-reported binge drinking while 1 percent of 10th-graders reported the same. Sixteen percent of 12th-graders reported binge drinking. 

About 4 percent of high school seniors said they've consumed as much as 10 or more drinks in a row in the past year, down 9 percentage points from 2006.

Usage of other drugs – including prescription drugs, heroin and cocaine – has also declined in the last year.

While usage among most young teens is reaching new lows, more and more Americans are favoring the legalization of pot. Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada all cast their ballots in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in the Nov. 8 election.

While Pennsylvania has yet to even propose full legalization, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a medical marijuana bill into law in April.