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PHOENIX -- Teenagers are smoking less synthetic marijuana and may be smoking more real pot, a drug prevention group said.

The National Institutes of Health surveyed thousands of students nationwide and found about 8 percent of high school seniors used some type of synthetic marijuana this year, a drop from the 11 percent in 2012.

"What you have here is a huge shift in attitude because the kids see the dangers of using 'K2' or 'Spice,'" said Shelly Mowery with Prevention Works Arizona.

Mowery said what teenagers don't see is the danger of marijuana. She laid the blame for that on Arizona's approval of medical marijuana and the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

"This is sending the message to kids that marijuana is socially acceptable and it must not be risky not that it has been legalized in two states."

The NIH study backs up Mowery. It also found that teenage perceptions of the dangers of marijuana use continued to decline. In 1993, more than 60 percent of high school seniors considered marijuana dangerous, while this year less than 40 percent thought that.

Mowery said more than 30 percent of Arizona's teens have smoked pot while only 10 percent have tried synthetic marijuana.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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