Marijuana Presents a Real Danger to Teens, Whether or not it is Legal for Adults

As the United Sates continues down the misguided path of legalizing recreational marijuana each state is setting their own laws about the amount a person can buy or grow, and decriminalizing amounts up to an ounce.  One common factor is making the age of 21 the threshold for purchasing.  Unfortunately, as we see with alcohol this doesn’t stop teens from getting and using marijuana. 

In a recent article in US News Susan Newman offers some recent facts that she thinks you should share with your teen. 

  • Teenagers are more susceptible to addiction because their brains are still developing. And, the younger they start any drug, the more likely they are to become addicted.

  • Addiction to nicotine or marijuana takes hold in similar ways in young people. In a 40-year study of smoking initiation from the University of Bergen in Norway of 119,104 subjects from 17 countries in Europe, the researchers found that, in regard to nicotine addiction, the younger the age someone started to smoke, the stronger the addiction. They concluded that “reducing initiation in adolescents is fundamental, since youngsters are particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction.”

  • Several studies demonstrate that the younger adolescents are when they start to use pot, the more likely they will have drug problems in adulthood. Boys who start smoking cannabis before age 15 are 68 percent more likely to have a drug problem by age 28. The risk drops to 44 percent if they started using marijuana between the ages of 15 and 17, according to a study published earlier this year in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

  • Researchers Carolyn Coffey and Dr. George C. Patton note also in the Journal of Canadian Psychiatry that the consequences for early teen marijuana use, especially heavy use, include persistent academic problems and progression to other substance use.

  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Adolescents who used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or obtain a degree. They also had a much higher chance of developing dependence, using other drugs, and attempting suicide.”

  • A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry that followed young marijuana users ages 9 to 30, found, as in so many other studies, an “escalation to harsher drug use" and “a higher risk of altered brain development” as well as “lower educational attainment and employment” by early adulthood.

  • For years marijuana has been labeled a gateway drug. In a 2016 New York Times opinion piece, Robert DuPont, the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, points out that, “Like nearly all people with substance abuse problems, most heroin users initiated their drug use early in their teens, usually beginning with alcohol and marijuana. There is ample evidence that early initiation of drug use primes the brain for enhanced later responses to other drugs. These facts underscore the need for effective prevention to reduce adolescent use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in order to turn back the heroin and opioid epidemic and to reduce burdens addiction in this country.”

At Gobi we agree with these findings but we are skeptical about sharing them with your teen.  The internet is full of contradictory “studies” (often paid for by pro-marijuana groups) and this just sets up an argument with your teen.  Our content focuses some on current use but mostly on topics like what do you want to do with your life and how do you become a doctor or a lawyer and smoke pot every day.  We are not sure but we suspect that not many parents win arguments based on the above study.