Summer is when many kids first try marijuana, so the government announced an effort Tuesday aimed at stopping children from lighting up while they're on break from school.
The "School's Out" initiative, an extension of an anti-marijuana campaign begun last September, includes anti-drug Internet resources for parents, community organizations, employers and teens.
Summer is the riskiest time of the year for teens when it comes to drug use, said John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Data released last year in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicates nearly 40 percent of teens who had used marijuana first tried it during the summer. Each day in June and July, about 5,800 teens try marijuana for the first time.
The anti-marijuana initiative is "going to be led by parents if it's going to work," Walters said. "But kids are not going to spend all their time at home."
The YMCA of the USA, the American Camping Association and shopping mall operator The Mills Corporation are joining the White House's drug policy office and the Health and Human Services Department in efforts to spread the word about the dangers of marijuana.
"Every day, kids make important decisions about their own self-images," said Marla Coleman, president of the American Camping Association, adding that kids are natural risk takers.
"We nurture positive risk taking," she said.
In addition to Web information, the summer initiative also includes updated post cards with information about marijuana, six parenting tips for summer and e-mail updates and new posters for teens, which will be released later this summer.
"The consequences of marijuana are much greater than people understand," said Walters, who said it was a mistake to see the drug as soft or harmless.
"What we're trying to do is respond to what the research shows," he said, referring to the "burst" of first-time use in summer.