Mixed Messages about Marijuana
Understanding the risks of Marijuana
GenPsych June 2018
Explaining and understanding the risks of Marijuana. Throughout the United States and particularly here in New Jersey citizens have voted in favor of legalizing the recreational and medical use of marijuana. Many other states across the nation have also decriminalized the personal use of marijuana.
While these measures are mainly focused on adults, they create a misunderstanding of the emotional and physical risks that marijuana could pose. All the recent media and talk about Marijuana leads to the false belief that if something is “legal” or “medical” it is not harmful.
What are the Risks of Marijuana use
Research has proven over and over again that the early use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs greatly increases the risk of addiction along with a variety of other developmental problems for people.
But, as the laws change and marijuana is constantly in the news cycle, we all perceive less risk in the recreational use of marijuana.
Media coverage has led to a number of misconceptions about medical marijuana and has largely ignored two critical facts: 1) smoked marijuana is not a ‘medicine’; and 2) the more misinformation that gets to the public stating that marijuana is medicine, the more people, including youth will view it as harmless and the more likely they will be to use it. It has been proven that there is a direct connection between the legal, medical use of marijuana by adults and the illegal, recreational use by children between the ages of 12 to 17.
How to Educate Kids about Marijuana
Don’t be fooled about the risks of marijuana use in adolescents
There are several helpful websites you can review to inform yourself on this issue, they include:
Keep in mind that many of the same risks apply to both alcohol and marijuana use. Marijuana use comes with legal risks, impairs driving ability, interferes with normal brain function and exposes young people to drug dependency the same as underage drinking and other mind-altering chemicals do.
While marijuana use may now be legal for adults in some states, it remains illegal for underage use in all states. Young people can get into serious trouble for using or having marijuana in their possession.
Speak with your children and discuss the misconception that marijuana is harmless. It is important for everyone to understand that misinformation can enable the harmful behavior.
Setting the record straight
An important part of the effort to keep kids healthy is to provide them with accurate information. Due to our modern culture and everything we see online and on TV, we all have a tendency to greatly overestimate the amount and frequency of alcohol and drug use by people. This needs to be corrected, consider the following;
Fewer students consumed alcohol for the first time before age 13 in 2015 than in 2013.
Fewer students used marijuana, once or more in their lifetime, in 2015 than in 2013.
Most students and 71% of high school seniors in 2015 disapprove of regular marijuana smoking.
Nine out of 10 high school students have not used cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Students who say they probably or definitely will complete four years of college have lower rates of illicit drug use than do those who say they probably or definitely will not.
Two out of three high school seniors have not used marijuana in the past 30 days. Three out of every four high school students in general, combining grades 9-12, have not used marijuana in the past 30 days.
Attack the myths head-on. Most teens in the U.S. do not use marijuana. The truth is that people who use marijuana are in the minority, it is not the norm and the use of marijuana does come with real risks.
GenPsych’s intensive outpatient program has five treatment centers located throughout New Jersey. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse, get help today. Schedule an appointment with GenPsych.