Study Says It’s Easier For Teens To Buy Marijuana Than Beer

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 28, 2009

    It’s that time of year — time for one of America’s leading prohibitionist organizations, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (aka CASA), to once again report that seven-plus decades of criminal pot prohibition have resulted in making cannabis more readily available to teens than alcohol!

    Study Says It’s Easier For Teens To Buy Marijuana Than Beer
    via KPVI News 6

    A recent study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has some startling results about teens and drugs.

    In their study, they found that 40 percent of teens could get marijuana within a day; another quarter said they could get it within an hour. In another portion of the survey, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 say it’s easier to get marijuana than buy cigarettes**, beer or prescription drugs. That number is up 37 percent from 2007.

    [**Note: The CASA study actually reported that teens could more readily access pot than beer or prescription drugs; the percentage of teens reporting that either marijuana or cigarettes were the “easiest to buy” were equal (26 percent) — got to love the mainstream media’s dedication to accuracy in reporting. That said, the percentage of Americans actually smoking cigarettes is now at an all-time low.]

    Ask any advocate of marijuana prohibition, including CASA’s head Joseph ‘Russian Roulette’ Califano, why they oppose legalization and you will almost always receive the same response: Keeping pot illegal keeps it out of the hands of children. Yet CASA’s own survey demonstrates once again that just the opposite is true. In fact, it’s legalization, regulation, and public education — coupled with the enforcement of age restrictions — that most effectively keeps mind-altering substances out of the hands of children.

    Abdicating the production and distribution of pot solely to black market criminal entrepreneurs increases, rather than decreases, teens’ access to cannabis.

    In short, no system could possibly provide America’s children with greater access to weed than the one we have: prohibition. Now when will our elected officials get the message?

    125 Responses to “Study Says It’s Easier For Teens To Buy Marijuana Than Beer”

    1. Buc says:

      This is actually good news.

      More people to rally to the cause since it’s easier for them to get.

    2. BoxofKryonz says:

      I would like to encourage readers (and the editor) that clicking links within the stories would help spread the message. You don’t NEED to read their propaganda, just a visit to say you were there. Site popularity (page ranking) is partially based on traffic. Where it comes from and where it goes. Also, keep an eye on your cookies (not those cookies).

      Also, maybe with any luck, when the opposition looks to see where their site visitors are coming from. They will read the story about them and learn where they are wrong.

    3. pedro says:

      It’s true, in my high school I can get it in every class.. the gym, cafeteria… down every block. No ID required =)

    4. Anon says:

      This isn’t news…studies have been saying this for a long time.

    5. Mike Goldman says:

      Well, at least cannabis *is* a safer choice than beer…but clearly cannabis prohibition is counterproductive altogether.

    6. Ed says:

      I find this to be one of the stronger arguments in the pro-legalization argument, especially since it’s not only unexpected, but undermines one of the arguments made by the prohibitionists.

      On another note, though, I don’t think this will influence too many people one way or another to be honest.

      Hopefully this will convince a good number of people to our side.

    7. CKDK29 says:

      It suks i cant go to tht convention, but iam looking forward to seeing the outcome of the convention in general as in whats after tht could it b decriminalization ? Something tells me so.Ijus hav that feeling.

    8. […] more here:  Study Says It’s Easier For Teens To Buy Marijuana Than Beer Share and […]

    9. Jon says:

      Hey Paul,

      What’s interesting to me is that not only does prohibition make it easier for kids to access cannabis, but it also makes it that much easier for kids to get off without much trouble – get arrested with weed as a minor, and you get a slap on the wrist. Get arrested with weed as an adult and you’re facing a barrage of serious consequences – why wouldn’t kids do as much school yard dealing as they can before they turn 18?


    10. Jerry Moler says:

      This guy doesn’t pay attention to his own data! If you believe that cannabis is bad for people under a certain age then regulate it so you can actually have some control. I’m using this data in my next letter to our elected officials. If you support prohibition then you support the drug cartels and criminal businesses that sell all kinds of substances to anyone that has money. You also provide the means to smuggle people across the Mexican boarder. You are also supporting the Mexicans war against it’s own people (oh by the way the violence is now in the US). When the MSM starts a body count of those Americans killed in this struggle it will start waking up a lot of people that are unaware of what is happening.

    11. Lea says:

      It’s nice to be smarter than these idiots. Every MJ activist already knows that teens can get pot easier.
      Every MJ activist knows that NOTHING they do will change peoples desire for soft drugs like pot.

      When will the elected officials get the message?
      At first reaction my answer is NEVER. But wait, I know I put that crystal ball somewhere.

    12. Rick James says:

      haha wow, when will they ever see that prohibition just makes it worse…?

      I honestly think if they just taxed and regulated it like they do alcohol there will be a huge decrease in drug related crimes…and the government would actually be making billions for $$$ but would rather pointlessly waste money trying to criminalize it…how sad it is really.

    13. Unitedwetokedividedwechoke says:

      Duh, we’ve known this for years but nobody has listened.

    14. Luke says:

      Back about 6 years ago when I was in high school it took about 20 min round trip to get some weed available almost any time of the day. Beer or liquor was always a pain to get. No one ever wants to buy beer for a bunch of high school kids. Could plan for a week for someone to buy alcohol and would almost always fall though.

      If marijuana was regulated in the same way as alcohol I would bet everything I had that teen use would go down.

    15. pejutah says:

      I work in a high school setting, and oddly, this very day, several kids were having a rather heated discussion about this. They also were very adamant that they could lay fingers to weed FAR more easily than just about anything other than their parent’s medications (which is a huge deal at this age group….russian roulette anyone?) and all I could think was how much more I’d feel relief if my OWN son or daughter wanted to smoke weed, as opposed to snarfling up my migraine medicine to relax if I were given the choice of what they’d get into. In any event, the kids were totally pro-legalization, and I consider them all to be thoughtful, soulful people…so, who knows, may not happen in my own lifetime, but I’m certain if these good kids end up in the political arena some time in the future, legalization will occur.

    16. Buggsy13420666 says:

      Here we go again, the substance abuse prohibitionists are out there trying to figure out how were to live our lives. Altrering our consciousness is a part of reality in the human species on this planet. Whether it is a use of a drug or spirituality. There is no one out there that had their arm twisted or threatened to do this or believe that. And then their is peer pressure to try to put the blame on, the choices are ours alone unless you live in a country that have draconian laws,socialism and totalitarian rule in which this country is heading to and basically already here, MARIJUANA PROHIBITION. And then there is the children and teens to point the fickle finger of fate at, were we not once children and teens ourselves. As adults now we made our choices ourselves, some wise and some not so wise. So to the adults out there, keep your your so called vices locked up ond out of reach so our young ones do not not get the wrong message that what ever we do in life is perfect example. And as far as these prohibitionist organizations, go take your surveys and shove them where the sun does not shine you are just worried about keeping your jobs just like the people who run the POLICE STATE up yours too WITH YOUR MARIJUANA PROHIBITION LAWS THAT TREAT ADULTS IN THIS COUNTRY LIKE WERE CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. 420 ALL THE WAY.

    17. Sam says:

      Reform is close!

    18. Chrokee Fred Jesus says:

      Watch them spin this with their lies. They will use this information to say we need to expand the war on drugs. They will say we need more jails and cops. More of our lawmakers will suggest we execute (kill) dealers like the GA senator. OR WE CAN STOP THEM! LEGALIZE IT AND LET US LIVE IN PEACE OR ELSE!!!!!!!!


    19. Unitedwetokedividedwechoke says:

      Sounds like the MSM is picking this stuff up, they are just slow about it. Marijuana consumers are a month ahead of the curve?

    20. Ray says:

      This undermines the “go to” argument for prohibitionists. All a prohibitionist has to do to convince the people that don’t know any better is say “What about the children?”

      Like I said in a comment on another post: For every argument the prohibitionist’s use, there is a scientific study or survey, often backed the government, to refute it. Every letter and conversation on the subject of legalization NEEDS to site the studies by name and organization performing the study. Let the evidence speak for us.

    21. Miguel says:

      wow…. theyre just figuring this out? Hell school is THE place to buy it

    22. Paul says:

      Remember prohibition? This is a whole lot worse than the prohibition of alcohol. During the prohibition of alcohol, illegal production of alcohol went way up driven by the black market price of alcohol. But alcohol is really hard to produce. You must first start with a crop of some kind to get sugar or starch. You can’t make the crop illegal because it is also food; barley, corn, grapes, apples, whatever. But you must also mash, ferment, (and distill, for the hard stuff) and bottle for distribution your black market product. But it continued to be enormously profitable.

      But with cannabis, all you need is a crop. That’s it and it’s all profit from there. It is so profitable that one might imagine that organized crime, still flush from its heyday during prohibition created the Drug War to put more money and power in its pocket. Cocaine and heroin are just a little more removed from the original crop, but still light years easier to make than booze, especially distilled liquor. Of course the crops are illegal, they don’t have the dignity or protection that food crops do. But because they are all so easy to grow, even compared to grains, there is bound to be somebody who does grow it, especially when they can eat more with the cash they make with a black market crop than they can with the crops they grow to make their own food.

      But why are the plant products drugs so profitable on the black market? Risk. The more risk necessary to distribute them, the more the price goes up. If you are a criminal and think you can handle the risk, you stand to make a lot of money and the more threats to you, the more money you can ask for your product.

      Sure they make it into all the classes in all the high schools. They are public places and public places are where the stuff moves.

      The answer, of course, is reduce the risk. Preferably to nothing so that people who distribute the stuff are fined horrible fines. Fines, but never jail time. That’s a huge risk and organized crime knows their way around jails better the people who put them there. And simple possession? To be ignored, except in the face of complaints about distribution. Like in a high school, for example.

    23. PeteinNC says:

      Being in the hospitality business I work with high school kids. Not that it really matters but I live in a city that is voted one of the best places to live and very family friendly.
      Point is these kids can get pot, and just about anything else you could desire.
      I agree with everyone but how do we get the prohibitionists to open their eyes and admit they are wrong. I think that might be the biggest obstacle, could you imagine them actually saying ” we lied all along and we are gonna change and do the right thing for once”

    24. #11 Lea Says:
      August 28th, 2009 at 7:22 pm

      “It’s nice to be smarter than these idiots…”

      RE: Yes, for sure, Lea!!! 😀

      – It would be nice to ALSO
      be MORE POWERFUL than
      those idiots as well…

      (Hate to merely revel in
      superior-knowledge alone, in itself…).

      – Pot WAS always easier to get
      in HS than alcohol….
      – Then, post-grad, this all changed…
      Stepped-up Prohib II made weed much more expensive
      than the UNSAFER-CHOICE, alcohol…

      (Just in time for 21st b-day…)

    25. […] Study says it’s easier for teens to buy marijuana than beer. No surprise there. […]

    26. Ga Sunshine says:


    27. Mike Stroup says:

      The major failure of prohibition is not just that it does not work, rather that it is in fact counterproductive. The unintended consequences of prohibition have done far more damage than that possible to be caused by the same substances prohibited in violation of God’s will for people to live in freedom with liberty as acknowledged and cited in the Constitution of the United States.

    28. The Oracle says:

      I visited their site at Columbia University to try to find out where they get their funding, as I find it hard to believe that Columbia provides the sole funding. Often such organizations receive grants that are essentially renewed automatically every year as long as they keep towing the line of the funding entitiy.

      CASA’s misson statement from http://www.casacolumbia.org/templates/AboutCASA.aspx?articleid=2&zoneid=1:

      Inform Americans of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives.
      Assess what works in prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.
      Encourage every individual and institution to take responsibility to combat substance abuse and addiction.
      Provide those on the front lines with the tools they need to succeed.
      Remove the stigma of abuse and replace shame and despair with hope.

      I wanted to read the study, but I don’t want to pay the $25 for half truths.

      Part of their mission statement is to analyze the costs, so I don’t know if they are analyzing the costs of cannabis use under prohibtion versus under legalization or if they are analyzing prevention under prohibition versus under legalization. It is common knowledge in reform circles that the Netherlands has lower costs and lower usage rates under its scheme by percentage than the U.S.

      Can we expose who funds Califano? Can we get them to put pressure on him to include the comparative information? Something to give people the big picture and convince some more people that legalization and age regulation and sound public education on responsible use is the way to go?

    29. Mike H says:

      Of course a non-regulated substance is going to be easier to get than a regulated substance. While it’s illegal anyone can sell it and nobody asks for ID.

    30. SweetPoison says:

      Amazing…It took a study to determine that teenagers have easier access to drugs over alcohol. I have to conclude that either our leadership is totally blind to the effects of prohibition or conciously creating and maintaining prohibition to control our lives

    31. ezrydn says:

      The souts in Congress will never give up their houch. If they did, they’d be more healthy and happier. But, who needs nealth and happiness? Expecially when you got a 6-oacj in the cooler back at the office.

    32. nick says:

      what pedro said…

    33. Lea says:

      #23: “we lied all along and we are gonna change and do the right thing for once” My thoughts exactly, for a very long time in fact. It might be painful to come clean at first and people would over react (mainly because of MSM crap) however, like all over hyped reactions it would calm down quickly. The guberment would most likely come out the winner in the end to. Tell the truth, what a lovely thought.

      #24 ……. just acknowledging your response to me, thank you. Appreciate that someone actually does read my comments.

    34. J says:

      “Kim Ellis, Pocatello Police department: “That’s something that we’re seeing here, but as far as what we’re seeing the statistics don’t bear out, that way, we’re seeing a lot more underage consumption citations than marijuana, possession of marijuana.”

      According the Pocatello Police Department, since the beginning of the year there were 58 alcohol violations with minors younger than 18, while there were only 12 marijuana violations.”

      It doesn’t sound like mj use is down, it sounds like alcohol is causing many more problems. Besides, how is “Yep, kids are drinking instead of smoking” a sign that DARE is working?

    35. Laur says:

      This really isnt to true, well for some areas for example where i live. More teens smoke cigarettes then marijuana. Because it IS easier to get, and so is beer and hard liquor all you have to do is ask some one who is old enough to buy it and there you go, soon enough these kids are going to be walking around with breathing machines and getting alcohol poisoning because they chose that path instead of getting high and harmless but they will still get called a “criminal”
      People need to see that marijuana does not even come close to what cigarettes can do to you in the future.

    36. R.O.E. says:

      Its funny , When I was a teen in school during Regan era, I could get cannabis ANY time, day or night, in school or out. Now in that same school, you know what has changed? New faces ,They now have metal detectors , in school resource officers, many many more rules. Know what hasnt changed? Kids can still get cannabis, day or night, in school or out.

      Nice to know their plan is working so well!

    37. R.O.E. says:

      #18 CFJ;

      Our leaders are all about expanding government, not just in the area of The WOD’s, but all others too. You would have to be in a coma the last year or so not to see that. The thing is,its not just merely expantion ,its control over money and people. They look for any EMERGENCY to grab more power and money.

      I will be suprised if down the road here,we dont see expantion in the WOD’s. On WOD’s that isnt going so well is the one going on in Afganistan, that by the way for those of you who may not realize it, Our troops are fighting that one. It sounds as thogh its not going well. Watch our leaders claim an EMERGENCY and send more troops in to cut down poppy fields.

      Get these guys out of there if we arent going to get OSAMA or his men. Stop the drug wars there, here, everywhere!We didnt send our guys/gals there to fight a drug war,but on terrorists and their leader/leaders. Get the job done and get out!

    38. Joseph "Ironman" Siler says:

      Easier for teens to aquire cannabis, than alcohol. Really, That’s hard to believe. Lets see, the Government has laws about the age at which a person can purchase, or possess alcohol. They have responsible licensed professionals selling alcohol, and if they knowingly sell alcohol to a person under 21, they could go to jail, be fined, and loose their license. The only way a person under 21 can aquire alcohol is with the help of a disreputable adult.
      The Government has NO laws about the age of purchase, or posssession of cannabis. Nobody can legaly possess cannabis for use as an intoxacant. If a person is caught selling cannabis to ANYONE they can be fined, and go to jail, no license to loose, no growing business to loose.
      Send a 15yr old out with exact change to get you a six pak of tall boys, no extra money to pay an adult to get it, and he must bring a full six pak, no giving one to the local alky to get it. NOT an easy task for a 15yr old.
      Give that same 15yr old $10.00 and send him out for a dime bag of cannabis. He just goes down the street, and finds the local dealer, could be a disreputable adult, more likely one of his friends. “Hey, need a dime bag”. “Cool, here ya go, money, thanks, enjoy”.
      Yep, the govs really got this under control.

      P/S I prefer to call it cannabis, instead of any of the slang terms.

    39. alex says:

      the sad thing is- that a good majority of responsible adult marijuana users probably have a harder time getting marijuana then kids in middle or high school.

      yet the government is somehow protecting us from ourselves. WTF?

    40. Rasta says:

      THANK you JAH for the blessed weed, we all know ganja is no different that a tomato, its as all natural… you know the saying; booze you lose, dope is hope… one lov…

    41. Charles M says:

      Just a thought… I think if we started to push people into not smoking cigarettes on a massive scale, the tobacco companies (who presently lobby against pro-cannabis legislation) would therefore be forced (or at the very least give the idea serious thought) of switching gears into lobbying for legalization, as soon as they began to notice a steep decline in their figures, if only to get their own hands into it. Not that i’d trust anything they sold, but their lobby power would come in helpful.

    42. Thomas Walker III says:

      Hello, my name is Tom, i am a teenager or a age in which i will not disclose, indeed i am under the age of 18. it is indeed easier to obtain cannabis than any other supplement known to me. The over all capability that cannabis has upon my system is nothing like i have felt before. i have indeed started a small JR. NORML group within my development. personally i dislike most people my age in whome do it only due to the fact that they do it to “get high”. indeed the term “high” is used too often to describe the effect of cannabis. Which in my oppinion is WRONG. a “high” is a resault from drugs wich indeed cannabis is not. i also disliek the fact that is is called “pot” or “weed” or “grass”. it is redicules. the term pot head has been endourced by too many. The capabiltis that cannabis has upon myself is nothing that i have ever felt before. i also use it to deal with deprestion, i refuse to take anything in wich was made in a lab. If i could then i would defunetly vote for legalization. of course 18+ only. but since it is an illigal substance, there is no age limit. there for i use it recreationally. i have been called a “stoner”. wich is indeed another term in wich i dis-like. i use cannabis. that is it. i am not a “druggy” or any other term in wich describes drug use. i am a happy person in whome loves the effect of cannabis.

    43. Commonsense says:

      In Michigan, tobacco tax on “roll your own” increased 400% in April. Premium packaged cigarettes only went up 20%. Poor people smoke roll your own. So in a nutshell the poor class were targeted directly by the government. I thought the so-called “sin tax” would tax alcohol and tobacco the same, but alcohol is less expensive than tobacco now. And I don`t need to tell NORML members how much more MJ costs than alcohol. As long as it`s LEGAL to have a fridge full of wine coolers in a house full of children, alcohol will ALWAYS be easier to get. #1 reason it is one of the cheapest drugs in America. 1 40 oz. beer is $2 pack of cigarettes $6 1 joint $5-20 depending on where you live. The kids being interviewed must have been rich kids. Imagine, if weed is legalized the govt. wants a $50 per ounce tax!! So on a “Level Playing Field” a 40 oz. beer would have a $2000 tax!!!! And how do we know the people from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University are “sober”. Only people that have never used any drugs have an unbiased opinion. Come on people how many more decades are going to pass under this idiotic alcoholic society???????

    44. Commonsense says:

      If they did a real scientific study they would randomly enter homes and look to see what “drugs” they find in the Refrigerator`s in homes with children.

    45. Mark says:

      It’s a sad, sad fact that in my own family and with people close to me, bringing up this point of pot being easier to get than booze just falls on deaf ears.

      That’s brainwashing at it’s finest.

    46. marc G. says:

      when i was a teenager me and my mates usually opted for weed over alcohol because not only does it give you a hangover but we would usually give up trying to get someone of age get it for us out front of the liquor store, also, we knew the smell of alcohol would still be on us when we went home ast the end of the night. not the case with pot, sure we’d smell of pot for maybe an hour or 2 but we couldnt go home and face our parents until we were sobered up. so we almost invariably opted for weed than beer or liquor. although one of our buddys parents had a readily accessible liquor cabinet. but we almost never pilfered it for fear our friend would get in trouble for stealing his parents’ alcohol. besides, we knew how easy it was to make stupid decisions while drunk. not the case with weed. all we did was watch the wall and wizard of oz and fear and loathing in las vegas when we got stoned. almost the same activities every time we got stoned. since being involved with my local norml chapter i have sworn off alcohol. im 29 but choose to not drink alcohol because of the health risks. not to mention the really stup[id decisions you make when youre drunk. AND ive woken up with far too many hangovers to want to do that to myself anymore. LEGALIZE NOW FOR THE GOOD OF OUR NATION!!! PROHIBIT ALCOHOL AGAIN AND THIS TIME KEEP IT ILLEGAL!!

    47. G says:

      I go to school at a music studio. I can get it from EVERYONE.

    48. Dave Lush says:

      Uh is it bad that pot is more readily available to teens than ALCOHOL and PRESCRIPTION DRUGS? Would you rather find your kid laughing and ripping a bong or cross eyed on the bathroom floor so doped out they can’t speak or walk? Don’t worry kids alcohol and prescription drugs will do you no harm they are legal. I mean c’mon give cannabis consumers a break man.
      Off subject but who decided to sensor bongs and joints but not long necks and shots. America ha….

    49. Dave Lush says:

      Oh and Thomas Walker III if you smoke pot everyday you are a stoner. Tell those people to F**k off have a little pride.

    50. Commonsense says:

      Answer to #23 question, how do we get the prohibitionists to open their eyes and admit they are wrong?
      Watch what these prohibitionists do in their personal lives. Do they use prescription drugs or alcoholic beverages? If so, then they are hypocrites and our society is punishing one group of recreational drug users(marijuana) and rewarding another group (alcohol and prescription drug users). Not all prescription drug users are recreational but the bottom line is the fat cats holding all the money don`t really give a flying f***. This is simply one group of drug dealers, alcohol dealers, and pharmaceutical drug dealers controlling the government and enjoying the wealth created by their puppets in Washington, and the laws made and enforced therein. The first step is to understand that marijuana users and alcohol users are on the same team here. Which puts marijuana sellers and alcohol sellers on the same team also. But this is making it transparent in that users and sellers are on opposite ends. Ask around your community. Would you rather have a level playing field where alcohol and marijuana are equal? Or would you rather force sobriety on America? Because under the current system controlled by drunks and pill poppers on the war path to destroy the hemp plant, and all that attempt to grow it, seems idiotic to me. Does anyone truly believe that 100% sober-for-life individuals make these decisions? I don`t. And proving you have an unbiased (sober) opinion is impossible. Freedom is expensive. But forcing people to choose alcohol or prescription drugs or risk prison for other drug choices has nothing to do with America or freedom!!

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