Boulder County Public Health concerned about teen marijuana trends

Survey: Students don't think smoking pot harmful

BOULDER, Colo. - A newly-released 2011 survey shows a growing number of high school students in Boulder County don't believe smoking pot poses a serious health risk, and Boulder County Public Health officials say that is a troubling trend.

"When I first tried, I just wanted to see the reaction. How I would feel because everyone was like, 'Oh, it's the best feeling,'" said one student outside Boulder High School, who did not wish to be identified.

According to a 2011 survey recently presented to County Commissioners, more than 40 percent of Boulder County High School students have tried pot, and nearly 8 percent said they tried it before the age of 13.

Compared to previous studies in 2007 and 2009, a growing numbers of students don't think smoking pot regularly poses a moderate or serious health risk.

Ann Noonan, director of the Addiction Recovery Centers for Boulder County Public Health, said the rise of medical marijuana in Colorado has sent a mixed message to teens. She said they aren't hearing about the affects on a developing brain, which can include increase in addiction and mental illness and decrease in IQ.

"We have had a lot of outdated educational material, clothes from the 70s. It's not very believable," said Noonan. "We need to be balanced and real -- no Reefer Madness."

Noonan said that at this point in Colorado, legalization may actually reduce the hypocrisy factor and make it easier to explain to teens that marijuana, just like alcohol, has risks.