NEW YORK (CBS Seattle) – 10 percent of high school students who would otherwise be a low risk for habitual pot smoking say they would use marijuana if it was legal, says a new study.

The researchers define low risk as kids who don’t smoke cigarettes, have strong religious beliefs and have non-marijuana smoking friends.

The study says that for high school seniors there would be a 5.6 percent increase in lifetime pot use prevalence. Since 45.6 percent of seniors admitted to smoking marijuana in the study, that suggests legalization would increase the number to 51.2 percent.

“Lifetime prevalence increases as adolescents age into adulthood. So by age 26, 64 percent of young adults in the U.S. are expected to use marijuana in their lifetime in the current policy context. We don’t know whether those found to be at risk in this study are the same adolescents that are going to use at an older age regardless of legal status,” wrote study author Dr. Joseph J. Palamar, an assistant professor at the department of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Dr. Stephen Ross, director of addiction psychiatry at NYU Tisch Hospital in New York, told CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook that he was worried because trends until a few years ago had been showing a decline in teen marijuana use.

“We know that in high school students, perception of harm is very much correlated with use. If high school students think something is harmful they’re much less likely to use it, and the converse is very much the case,” Ross explained to LaPook, who is also a professor at NYU Langone Medical Center.

In the survey, more teens said they didn’t think there was a risk in using, and marijuana use has increased in the last few years.

The researchers analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future survey, which is a nationally-representative survey of students in grades 8, 10 and 12. The students were polled from 2007 to 2011, before recreational marijuana use was legalized in Colorado and Washington following the November 2012 elections.

The study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

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