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What’s the Legalization of Marijuana Doing to Our Teens?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


teens and marijuanaThe legalization of marijuana is a hotly debated political issue. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington State. At this date, medical use is legal in Oregon as well as 20 other states, plus DC. I appreciate that in The NY Times article, Legal Marijuana for Parents, but Not Their Kids, they discuss not the legal or ethical issues, but the more important health issues attendant on this subject.

How is the legalization of marijuana affecting our children? It certainly sends mixed messages to our children. At the very least they’re going to ask, “Why is it okay for you, but not for us?” It concerns me that they may perceive that it’s now a harmless substance for them to use. However, that is far from the truth. Evidence shows that the brains of young people are still developing until their early 20s and youths who start using marijuana are at risk to long-term problems. Their likelihood of addictive behavior increases and their cognitive functions decrease.

A long-term study based in New Zealand found that “teens who smoked marijuana heavily and continued the practice into adulthood lost an average of eight I.Q. points by age 38 that could not be fully restored”. A Canadian study published in 2002 agrees that heavy marijuana use by teens results in lower cognitive abilities.

The article quotes Mr. Pasierb, the chief executive of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, “We know that 90 percent of adults who are addicted began use in teenage years. They programmed the reward and drive center of their teenage brain that this is one of those things that rewards and drives me like food does, like sex does.”

As a psychologist who specializes in the holistic health approach, I see daily evidence that what people choose to drink, eat, or smoke greatly affects the complex interactions between mind and body. I urge parents to discuss this issue seriously with your adolescents. They need to learn how to take control of their lives and learn how to achieve optimum mental and physical health and wellness.

If your teens are struggling with the pressures of life and you’re afraid they’re turning to unhealthy means of coping, please don’t hesitate to contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office and make an appointment today. What they chose to do now will affect the rest of their lives. Let’s help them make positive choices that support them in building happy and productive lives.

Read more on my website – Holistic Health.



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