When we talk about today’s marijuana and teens, there are two main points:
1. The teen brain responds differently to cannabis than the adult brain.
Because adolescence is a time of rapid brain growth, regular use can cause long-term damage to the developing structures.
2. This is NOT yesterday’s cannabis.
Many versions of cannabis sold today are significantly more potent and potentially damaging to the teen brain.
In 1978, your average weed had a THC level of 1.37 percent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse; in 2008, the average was 8.5 percent. However, in recent years, as state-level marijuana programs have developed, the suddenly-not-illegal-anymore cultivation community has been able to share information and fine tune their methods, resulting in some of the highest THC levels ever seen. Dispensaries all over Colorado boast strains with 20 to 25 percent THC, and now a Denver area grower who goes by RB-26 claims to have achieved the first strain to consistently test at 33 percent (Photo – The white area is THC).
In addition, users have now developed a way to take the THC off of the plant material and create Butane Hash Oil, also known as Wax or Dabs or Butter. This can lead to THC concentration of up to 70-90%.
Combine this more potent drug with the use of new smoking devices, like vape pens, e-cigs, and e-hookahs, and THC can be delivered more easily, more quickly, and more discreetly than ever before.
“Edibles” are also becoming more prevalent. The 2015 Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report states the number of specific THC-infused edible exposures rose from 19 in 2013 to 95 in 2014. “Really, almost exclusively now, the patients we’re seeing for marijuana intoxication in the emergency department are due to edible products,” said Dr. Andrew Monte of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Medical Toxicology at the University of Colorado Denver. “The recreational users that get into edible products or children that inadvertently get into them not knowing what they are.”
One of the problems with edibles is that because the THC is digested instead of inhaled, it can take up to two hours for the user to start feeling the psychoactive effects. Users can either become impatient or simply not follow the recommended-use guidelines and eat or drink the entire product.
Marijuana is Addictive
About 9% of users become addicted to marijuana. This number increases to about 17% for those that start in adolescence. It can increase even more so (20-50%) for daily, adolescent users. For comparison’s sake, cocaine addicts roughly 20% of users, and heroin about 25% of users.
Emergeny Room Visits
Cannabis was involved in more thatn 461,000 emergency room visits in the US in 2010.
Marijuana Use Impacts IQ in Adolescents
A study was released from New Zealand, in 2012
IQ Tests given at ages 13 and 38
Marijuana Use Assessed at ages 18, 21, 26, 32, and 38
Heavy adolescent users showed an average 8 point drop in IQ testing. Those who only used heavily in adulthood showed no significant change in IQ.
Higher THC Levels can Lead to Psychosis
New Findings Released 2015: ‘Skunk-like’ cannabis associated with 24% of new psychosis cases
A study of 800 people aged 18-65 in South London found the risk of psychosis is three times higher for potent ‘skunk-like’ cannabis users and five times higher for those who use it every day, according to research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.
WEED 101: Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Today’s Marijuana: What You and Your Teen Need To Know
Dr. Jennifer Golick at White Hill Middle School: Today’s Marijuana
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Marin marijuana forum focuses on pitfalls of use by youth
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