Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance among adolescents. In addition, that could increase with the changes in legal status. Even if legalization is limited to adults, the prevalence of use among teens could increase. Now more than ever it is important to know the dangers and effects of teen marijuana use.
There has been much research about the short and long-term negative consequences of teen marijuana use. The adverse effects are well documented and include impaired short-term memory and decreased concentration, attention span, and problem solving, which clearly interfere with learning. Alterations in motor control, coordination, judgment, reaction time and tracking ability are documented; these may contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries among adolescents (especially those associated with motor vehicles if adolescents drive while intoxicated by marijuana). Negative health effects on lung function associated with smoking marijuana have also been documented, and studies linking marijuana use with higher rates of psychosis in patients with a predisposition to schizophrenia have recently been published, raising concerns about longer-term psychiatric effects.
If negative health effects aren’t enough of a deterrent, there are other consequences to consider. Research has shown that the younger an adolescent begins using drugs, including marijuana, the more likely they are to develop dependence or addiction in adulthood. Teen marijuana use is also associated with reductions in the odds of completing high school and attaining a degree and increases in the use of other illicit drugs. Increases in suicide attempts have also been documented.
Pot is not for teens! This seems like this should be an obvious conclusion but, when legalization campaigns and safety campaigns in legal states portray the drug as fun, recreational, and harmless, it’s easy to see how confusion arises. Don’t be fooled. Legalization has not changed the fact that teen marijuana use is highly dangerous and leads to long-term negative consequences.
Here is a very helpful pamphlet, Marijuana, Facts for Teens, put out by the Department of Health and Human Services.
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