Tahoe-Truckee teen pot use: Survey seeks ways to reduce ‘unhealthy’ trend | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee teen pot use: Survey seeks ways to reduce ‘unhealthy’ trend

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — Prompted in part due to results of a statewide survey, the Tahoe-Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence Coalition recently launched its own poll into youth marijuana use.

According to the 2014 California Healthy Kids Survey, 77 percent of Tahoe Truckee Unified School District ninth-graders who took the survey reported no marijuana use in the past 30 days — down by 2 percent from 2012.

In comparison, 85 percent of ninth-graders statewide who took the survey between 2011-13 reported no marijuana use in the past 30 days.

Further, TTUSD 11th-graders were below the state average, with 74 percent of survey takers reporting no use in the past 30 days, versus 76 percent of California students.

"This is unhealthy for our community and puts them at high risk for becoming dependent on marijuana later in life," said River Coyote, director for the Tahoe Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence Coalition. "… Our goal is to reduce teen use of marijuana and let the data drive our solutions."

Launched in mid-May, TT-FWDD's anonymous poll asks questions revolving around reasons for marijuana use, the drug's perceived harm and ease of availability.

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Through these questions, the coalition hopes to learn what local conditions are contributing to youth marijuana use and what factors prevent use, Coyote said.

As of Wednesday, roughly 320 surveys have been completed, including 61 by youth under 18. The survey is open to those 13 years old and older.

"We will analyze (feedback) to learn from it and design logic models for prevention," Coyote said. "If enough people take it, the truth will float to the surface. It will become clear what we need to do."

Currently, TT-FWDD efforts focus on educating parents and youth on the dangers of drug and alcohol use at an early age.

"Contrary to the pro-legalization rhetoric, most of us know some people who have been harmed by (marijuana) just as we know people harmed by other intoxicating drugs like alcohol and prescription drugs," Coyote said. "Most people are not fooled. They realize recreational marijuana is a harmful and addictive product, sold to make money."

Some negative effects linked to marijuana use include drops in IQ, reduced academic achievement and addiction, she said.

"Our focus is on prevention of youth drug and alcohol use," Coyote said. "This is the most effective way to prevent adult dependence and addiction. We are reducing the impacts of substance abuse in Tahoe Truckee because people care enough to get involved."

TT-FWDD's goal is to get as many surveys completed — particularly by youth — by the time the survey closes June 15.