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Study: Pot Acceptance 'High'


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Almost half of adults ages 18 to 25 believe it's acceptable if their peers choose to smoke marijuana, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found that 41 percent of those surveyed found it acceptable if friends or acquaintances wanted to smoke marijuana.

Carroll Doherty, associate director of Pew Research Center, said he found the numbers regarding marijuana "significant" and thought it had to do with this generation's tolerance.

"I think there's a sense that this generation does have a little more tolerant attitudes," he said. "It's a significant number ... there's no doubt about that."

The study also shows that 27 percent found it OK to consume "a lot" of alcohol.

Carroll said to compare the findings between smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, the wording must be taken into context. Respondents were asked whether they thought it was acceptable to drink "a lot" of alcohol, which he said implied drinking in excess.

However, the real numbers may be larger, said Jay Bundy, founder and president of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws at Penn State.

"There's a great percent missing that simply were not comfortable expressing their genuine attitudes on marijuana," Bundy said.

James Smith, professor of English and American studies at Penn State Abington, wrote in an e-mail message that he believed the questions respondents were asked were misleading.

"Actually, the way the questions were phrased ... seemed to encourage a higher response, particularly among people who may be conditioned to be non-judgmental in dealing with the behavior of others," he wrote.

Carroll said Pew used to ask respondents about their personal substance use in the past, but stopped several years ago.

"It's a difficult question to ask," he said. "It's a difficult question for people to answer about themselves."

Karen Halnon, associate professor of sociology at Penn State Abington, has published the first paper about what she calls the "420 culture" and said she found the study "fascinating."

"I think you can assess the risks," she said. "Most people know that marijuana is much safer to use as a drug than alcohol."

Halnon talked about the therapeutic indexes of both alcohol and marijuana.

The therapeutic index is how much of a drug a person would have to take to be at risk for death.

The therapeutic index of marijuana is 2,000. Alcohol is 10.

"You would have to take over 2,000 times the amount that it took you to say, get high, to have a 50 percent chance of dying," she said, explaining the therapeutic index of marijuana.

Since the therapeutic index of alcohol is 10, Halnon said, a person would have to drink 10 times the amount it would take them to become intoxicated to be at risk for death.

Halnon said the data she provided about marijuana is strictly hypothetical because there has yet to be a reported case of someone dying from using marijuana, which she called a "drug of peace."

"I think when individuals accept marijuana smoking with the understanding of the experience, what they're actually finding acceptable is an experience of peacefulness ... of mind expansion," she said.

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: The Daily Collegian Online (PA)
Author: Lauren McCormack
Contact: lcm5027@psu.edu
Copyright: 2007 Collegian Inc.
Website: The Daily Collegian Online
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