The prestigious American Academy of Pediatrics is out with a new study imploring parents not to allow their kids to use marijuana, warning that consumption in the teen years could have a dire impact on brain development.
The report, titled, “Counseling Parents and Teens About Marijuana Use in the Era of Legalization of Marijuana,” will appear in the March 2017 journal Pediatrics, cautioning parents that, as marijuana legalization forges on, there’s much to be concerned about.
“Marijuana is not a benign drug, especially for teens,” Dr. Seth D. Ammerman, MD, co-author of report, said in a statement announcing the results. “Their brains are still developing, and marijuana can cause abnormal and unhealthy changes.”
In fact, the human brain develops into the 20s, and some studies have found that marijuana use 10 times a month or more could impact portions of the brain that handle memory and planning, The Associated Press reported.
That said, moves to legalize the drug have been successful in a number of U.S. states, including Washington and Colorado.
— Amer Acad Pediatrics (@AmerAcadPeds) February 28, 2017
“Many states have recently made significant changes to their legislation making recreational and/or medical marijuana use by adults legal,” the report’s abstract reads. “Although these laws, for the most part, have not targeted the adolescent population, they have created an environment in which marijuana increasingly is seen as acceptable, safe, and therapeutic.”
And while many say addiction to marijuana isn’t possible, the medical organization disagrees, warning that the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, has tripled from 4 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2014, and that some strains go as high as 20 percent, putting people at increased risk of addiction and overdose.
It’s with this in mind that Dr. Sheryl A. Ryan, lead author of the report, told The Associated Press that “today’s marijuana is much more potent and potentially riskier.”
But as problems are reportedly increasing, kids between the ages of 12 and 17 are actually much less likely than they were a decade ago to see “great risk” in smoking the drug, with that proportion going down from 55 percent to 41 percent, according to a press release announcing the report.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is hoping to help parents better navigate the issue through education, encouraging pediatricians to talk to teens and parents, alike, about the risks.
“Parents who use marijuana themselves may not fully realize the effect this can have on their children,” Ryan said in a statement. “Seeing parents use marijuana makes kids more likely to use it themselves, whether or not their parents tell them not to, because actions speak louder than words.”
Read more about the issue here.
Other Must-Read Stories: