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One of the most pervasive myths about marijuana is that it is relatively harmless. Many believe that adolescents can smoke marijuana and not become addicted to it. Our analysis of data released last month from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) shows that in 2012, teens admitted to treatment were diagnosed with addiction involving marijuana far more frequently than other substances. Over 65% of adolescents ages 12-17 who were admitted to treatment had addiction involving marijuana. In total, about 9% of people who use marijuana will become addicted; research suggests that this number may be higher among teens who start using the drug early. Even teens who don’t become addicted can be harmed as research shows that teen marijuana use can have significant effects on cognitive function and IQ, especially learning, memory, attention, and concentration.
In light of these facts about the risks of marijuana use during adolescence, state policy makers and the public should be alarmed rather than comforted by the push to liberalize marijuana laws for medical or recreational use. Legalization will make this drug more easily accessible to teens. Is it worth risking the health of so many children in the United States? The active ingredient in marijuana that may provide relief for people suffering certain terrible illnesses can be prescribed in oral form in either Marinol or Cesamet. CASAColumbia shares New York’s Governor Cuomo’s concerns about making smokeable marijuana available for medical use. Increasing the availability of marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes, potentially places our children at very serious risk.
More information about addiction treatment.
Mark Stovell is a freelance blogger.