New York — Teen-age marijuana use has dropped for a third straight year, but a jump in the use of the "club drug" ecstasy raised new concerns for parents, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's annual report.
The nonprofit group's 13th survey, being released today, questioned 7,290 students in seventh through 12th grades nationwide. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.
Use of ecstasy, a favorite at dance clubs and all-night raves, has doubled among teens since 1995, the survey found. One in 10 teens has experimented with the drug, it said.
The report found the number of teens who have tried ecstasy at least once had increased from 7 percent to 10 percent over the past year. In contrast, the 40 percent of teens saying they had tried marijuana was down from 41 percent last year.
It was the third consecutive drop-off in teen marijuana use since 1997, when 44 percent of teens said they had used the drug at least once.
"We appear to be turning a very important corner," said Richard D. Bonnette, the partnership's president and chief executive officer. "But as we turn one corner, troubling developments are coming at us from other directions specifically with ecstasy."
The survey found that more teens were turned off than on by marijuana. Fifty-four percent felt smoking pot would make them behave foolishly, up from 51 percent in 1997. Fewer believe most people will try marijuana: 36 percent now, compared with 41 percent in 1997. And just 21 percent said they had used marijuana in the past month, down from 24 percent in 1997.
Those numbers are significant because they address attitude changes since the partnership, along with the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, started a national anti-drug ad campaign in July 1998.
"This study confirms the trends we've seen over the last three years a steady decline in the number of teen using drugs," said Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. "This is very good news."
The study found that the number of teens seeing anti-drug advertising on a daily basis has jumped significantly from 32 percent in 1998 to 49 percent this year.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, launched in 1987, is a coalition of communications industry professionals aimed at reducing the demand for illegal drugs.