PBC experiences jump in teen marijuana use, cite medical pot acceptance in youth usage spike

Recent survey indicates more teens using pot

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- - Marijuana use among teens has spiked to unexpected levels in Palm Beach County despite alcohol use trending down, according to experts at the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition.

"I felt a failure you know as a mother on my part. It was like we were questioning ourselves. It was like where did we go wrong? What did we do wrong?" said Jacqueline Woolfe, a Jupiter resident.

It was a few years ago when Woolfe discovered her two children, now in their 20s, had been smoking pot since they were as young as 14-years-old. Devastated her children were not only breaking the law but harming their health, she confronted them.

"They said it was no big deal, you know everybody does it. It's an herb, it's grown, it's natural, it's not harmful," said Woolfe.

According to experts at the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, Woolfe is not alone.

When asked in a recent statewide survey if they had smoked pot within 30 days of taking the survey, results show more teens circled they had used marijuana, a jump of 4.1%.

The reason according to Jeff Kadal at the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, marijuana is becoming more socially acceptable with many states legalizing it for medical use.

"Those type of signals that we send to our youth are saying, 'hey maybe it's not as bad as we thought it was or people were telling us it was. Unfortunately it is that bad," said Kadel.

Kadel also said with newer technology and social media, it is easier for teens to find a dealer.

The drug is also being grown in our area with many law enforcement agencies taking down dozens grow houses in 2011.

On the Treasure Coast, numbers for teen pot use from 2008 to 2010 are mixed. Survey results indicated Saint Lucie County saw a jump of 1.5%. In Indian River County, results show a spike of 2.9%. In Martin County, it saw a decrease in teen marijuana use of 3%.

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