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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — School dropouts have used marijuana four times more than cocaine, a University of Tennessee study shows.

 A report by UT-Knoxville’s Community Health Research Group says, among Tennessee youths who quit school, 63 percent have used marijuana but only 15 percent have used cocaine.

 Of those who stay in school, marijuana has been used by 39 percent and cocaine by only 7 percent, the report says.

 The study, directed by Dr. Sandra Putnam, says 43 percent of dropouts, compared to 63 percent of those who stay in school, say marijuana is very dangerous. It says 90 percent of dropouts and 75 percent of those who stay in school say marijuana is easy to obtain.

 “The easier the access to the drug and the less harm attributed to it, the more likely youth are to use it,” Putnam said.

 “This gives us insight into prevention strategies to make drugs less available to youth and increase awareness of the dangers of marijuana and other drugs.”

 The UT study shows both groups’ use and attitudes are more similar for other drugs than for marijuana.

 Drug use comparisons for dropouts and those who stay in school, respectively, include:

 * Alcohol — 90 percent of dropouts and 72 percent of those who stayed in school.

 * Cigarettes — 65 percent and 64 percent.

 * Heroin — 2 percent and 2.6 percent.

 * LSD — 11 percent and 13 percent.

 A study recent study by the Partnership for a Drug Free America shows teens now see fewer risks and more benefits from marijuana use.

 Since 1990, the survey has found increased tolerance among U.S. teens for marijuana use. The 38 percent who reported experimenting with pot in the latest survey was a seven-year high.


Contact: Dr. Sandra Putnam (423-974-4511)