Ginsburg’s Marijuana Use Far From Rare in His Age Group With AM-Ginsburg Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ More than a quarter of Americans over age 25 say they have tried marijuana at least once, and that number is slowly increasing, federal statistics show.
The figures from the National Institute on Drug Abuse back up President Reagan’s contention that his 41-year-old Supreme Court nominee, Douglas H. Ginsburg, is part of a generation that experimented with the drug in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Jeff Edwards, assistant director of the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said Friday the statistics ″don’t surprise us a bit. A lot of people in that generation tried marijuana, decided it wasn’t for them and quit.″
And Edwards predicted that ″as those people who went to college in the late ’60s and early ’70s get older, we’re going to see more instances of people seeking public office who have tried marijuana.″
Ginsburg acknowledged in a statement Thursday that he had used marijuana once in the 1960s and several times in the 1970s. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., reported Friday that Ginsburg had told senators he had used the illegal drug as recently as 1979, while a Harvard Law School professor.
Reagan, saying he would stand by the nomination, said Friday, ″I’m old enough to have seen that era in which his generation and generations earlier than that - how it was taken and all.″
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, surveys drug use among Americans over age 12 every three years.
In its most recent survey in 1985 of more than 8,000 people - excluding the homeless and those living on military bases and in prisons - the institute found that 33 percent of all Americans, or 62 million, had reported trying marijuana at least once in their lifetimes.
Of those, 5 million were youths aged 12 to 17, representing 24 percent of that age group.
Another 20 million were young adults, aged 18 to 25, representing 60 percent of that age group.
And 37 million Americans aged 26 or older, or 27 percent of the age group, said they had used marijuana at least once.
Joanne Hough, a spokesman for the institute, did not have the potential margin of error for the 1985 survey, or for an earlier one in 1982.
The overall number of Americans who had tried marijuana rose 2 percent between 1982 and 1985, the drug abuse institute’s figures show.
But the only age group with a growing number of members who had used the drug was the category for 26 or older. In 1982, 23 percent of them had reported trying the drug. Ms. Hough did not have the number of all adults.
″We see an aging of the population that tried the drug in the early 1970s,″ Ms. Hough said.
″A lot of people tried marijuana when they were young,″ agreed Charlotte Slider of Response Analysis, a survey-research company based in Princeton, N.J.
Response Analysis did some of the earliest polls on marijuana use. It conducted one in 1971 and another in 1972 for the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse.
The 1971 survey found that 40 percent of the 18-to-21-year-olds - college- age youths - had used marijuana.
In 1972, the percent jumped to 55 percent for the age group.
Thirty-eight percent of those in Ginsburg’s age group in 1971 - those who were 22 to 25 years old - reported they had tried marijuana. The following year, the percentage for the age group went up slightly to 40 percent.
As for whether marijuana use makes a difference for those seeking high office, a poll published Friday in USA Today found that 70 percent of respondents said it would make no difference in their vote if a presidential candidate had smoked marijuana in college. Another 27 percent said they would vote against a candidate who had used marijuana as a youth. The rest had no comment.
The poll by USA Today and Cable News Network was conducted Oct. 25 to 30 among 1,005 registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of three percentage points.