Teens and Marijuana: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Teens and marijuana
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Reports indicate the marijuana use among adolescents remains on the rise. In fact, surveys show that daily marijuana use among high school seniors is at a 30 year high. Over 6% of high school seniors report smoking marijuana daily, which is up from 2% in 1993.

There remains a lot of misconception and confusion about whether marijuana actually poses any risks to young people. The research studies remain clear in stating that marijuana poses serious risks to the physical, mental, and emotional development of adolescents.

Medical Marijuana Has Shifted Adolescent Attitudes

The legalization of medical marijuana in certain parts of the United States has changed the way many adults and adolescents view marijuana. In counties where voter approval of the legalization of medical marijuana is highest, teens are more likely to use marijuana. They’re also less likely to perceive any risks associated with marijuana use.

Physical Health Implications

Marijuana use poses both short and long-term health risks to teens. It’s been associated with chronic bronchitis and respiratory infections. Marijuana use also increases a teen’s risk of accidents and injuries. Marijuana has been linked to a significant increase in automobile accidents among teens, especially fatal crashes.

Marijuana and Brain Development

Regular marijuana use has been shown to drastically alter the brain, especially during adolescence. Brain imaging studies show that marijuana users experience abnormalities in the brain’s gray matter, which is associated with intelligence.

  Teens who use marijuana regularly lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood.

Psychological Issues Associated with Marijuana

Several studies have linked marijuana to psychosis. In particular, research has found that smoking marijuana during adolescence may be a risk factor for developing schizophrenia.

A Swedish study found that marijuana use before age 18 led to a 6-fold increased risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.

Teens who are struggling with depressionanxiety, or other mental illness may experience increased symptoms with marijuana use. Marijuana can lead to increased negative emotions and even paranoia.

Long-Term Problems

A multitude of research studies have linked marijuana use during adolescence to negative outcomes during adulthood. It’s been associated with poorer educational attainment, greater risk of intimate partner violence, and lower work commitment. It’s also been associated with a greater risk of drug dependence and an increased chance of being involved in crime.

The Risk of Dependency

A common misconception is that marijuana isn’t addictive. Many teens believe they can smoke marijuana for years without ever developing an issue. But the research shows about 20% of teens who smoke marijuana will become addicted. Once an addiction develops, teens may experience extreme difficulties reducing or stopping their use.


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