Why Marijuana Legalization Puts Our Youth at Risk

effects of legalizing marijuana

Last Spring, the federal CARERS Act of 2015 was proposed. This bill, if passed, will let states legalize medical marijuana without federal interference and relegate pot from a Schedule I drug, a drug of high abuse potential, to Schedule II.

It seems that the efforts towards legalization of marijuana are gaining full momentum. According to a recent Boston Globe article, 23 States already pardon the drug in some form. Four States, with the addition of Massachusetts next year, condone its recreational use. Now, it appears that very little is preventing marijuana from becoming the most widely acceptable drug in the country, perhaps even the world—And alongside these legalization efforts comes with an overgrowing perception: marijuana cannot harm a person, it is safe, and a person cannot become addicted.

Because America’s outlook on marijuana is so limp, because our regulations on the drug are so lenient at this time, adolescents and young adults are becoming more and more likely to use the drug. In fact, the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health determined that while the use of tobacco and alcohol among teens has fallen in the past year, their habitual use of marijuana has increased considerably.

Would you be okay with your son or daughter using marijuana recreationally if you also knew that he or she is increasing the chances of addiction? Many supporters of marijuana’s legalization do not know the addictive properties of the drug, or that 1 in every 11 young adults become addicted to smoking pot. Many people do not know that marijuana is truly a gateway drug, and that regular use before age 15 is more likely to lead to cocaine, heroin, and prescription drug addictions later on in life.

Adolescents and young adults are the primary demographic using marijuana today. They are also the group most vulnerable to addiction and the negative consequences addiction bears. Due to their premature stages of adolescent brain development, teens and young adults are also inherently prone to the lasting cognitive deficits that marijuana can cause. Despite common belief, marijuana can negatively impair a person, and this is largely a result of THC. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, disrupts nerve cells within the brain, causing one’s memory and mental capacity to decline with repeated use. When a person consumes the drug, the THC clings to receptors in the brain that assist with healthy behaviors like eating, learning, and relationship development. When tested in mice, these receptors disappeared altogether over time. Numerous studies have found the same, that early marijuana use has been linked to impaired working memory, a decline in IQ, and even an increased likelihood of depression.

Every day, the Turnbridge team sees young men struggle with real, full-fledged marijuana addictions. Every day, we help young men move past those addictions. But addiction is a struggle. It takes time and faith to conquer. So as this push for marijuana legalization continues, we ask all to tread lightly. Remember those young adults that are already struggling, and understand that our decisions now will undoubtedly impact our youth in the future. Educate yourself, your family, your friends, advocates and adversaries, on marijuana and on the afflictions that the drug’s legalization can bring.

“The argument here isn’t whether marijuana should be legal,” the Boston Globe concluded this past September. “Instead, should the drug become widely available, it’s to our detriment to blindly consider marijuana’s legalization a victory worthy of celebration. We must be cautious when societal shifts can affect health, especially among our most vulnerable populations.” That is our youth. Our youth are the most vulnerable to the harmful consequences of marijuana, and it is our job, as parents, as educators, as decision makers, to protect them.

For more information on the effects of marijuana, call Turnbridge at 877-581-1793 today.