Topeka trends on par with rise in marijuana use

Marijuana plants sit under powerful lamps in a growing facility in Arlington, Wash.
In this file photo taken Jan. 13, 2015, marijuana plants sit under powerful lamps in a growing facility in Arlington, Wash. Washington launched its second-in-the-nation legal marijuana market with just a handful of stores selling high-priced pot to long lines of customers. A year later, the state has about 160 shops open, tax revenues have soared past expectations and sales top $1.4 million per day. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

TOPEKA (KSNT) — National marijuana use is on the rise.

On Wednesday, the National Institute of Health released survey results that marijuana use across the county has doubled in the last 10 years.

From 2001-2002, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 people and then repeated the study from 2012-2013.

During that 10 year span, people admitting to using the drug rose from 4.1 percent to 9.5 percent.

Despite that jump, the number of Americans with signs of dependency or abuse or marijuana went down to 1 in 3.

Although those numbers reflect a national upward trend, local law enforcement agencies have seen similar trends in Kansas. And one official said there is a specific reason for that increase.

“Obviously with the onset of Colorado, our neighbor, allowing that, I think there’s kind of that mindset that if it’s okay in Colorado, it should be here in Kansas,” said Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones.

The national survey was conducted with adults, but advocates have seen a rise in younger users too.

“Marijuana use is the number on reason youth seek treatment in Shawnee County and the state,” said the director of Safe Streets, Kristi Pankratz.

Prankratz said that number came from a study done by the Kansas Dept of Aging and Disability Services and SAMHSA, a group that describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting positive youth behaviors through educations, networking and advocacy.”

Both Pankratz and Jones said the change in how marijuana is viewed and talked about has led to the increase of use in Shawnee County and the state.

According to Pankratz, teens are more like to use the drug because it is no longer widely viewed as harmful.

But the idea of legalization may be creeping across the Colorado-Kansas border.

“When you look down in Wichita, there was a trend of trying to change some laws — of trying to make it more acceptable,” Jones said.

That case was heard earlier this year by the Kansas Supreme Court. The court has not yet issued a decision.

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