In this article:
- Will underage marijuana use increase under a legal market?
- I’m a parent, I’m worried my child is using marijuana
- Risks of underage cannabis use
Will a legal recreational marijuana market increase underage use?
Those who oppose marijuana legalisation claim that there will be a national epidemic of underage cannabis users after legalisation. However, since American states legalised the recreational use of cannabis, statistics would say otherwise.
Cannabis use among underage users has actually declined in states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that after Colorado legalized recreational sales of cannabis in 2014, the percentage of children using marijuana dropped from 18% to 16%.
The percentage of children using cannabis for the first time also dropped from 8% to 7% after legalisation.
In the US states where cannabis has been legalised, underage cannabis users have reported that it is now much harder to obtain cannabis without I.D.
I'm a parent and worried my child is using marijuana
Not to worry you, however roughly 45% of children will take some form of drugs as they grow up.
If you think your child is smoking marijuana, you don’t have much to worry about – it is physically impossible to overdose on marijuana and it’s better they use cannabis than hard drugs. We’ll explain why below.
Cannabis is not a gateway to hard drugs
You know your child uses cannabis, and now you’re worried that they’ll move on to hard drugs? It sounds simple, but, don’t worry! Cannabis is NOT a gateway drug, it is in fact used to treat hard drug and alcohol addictions.
Cannabis will not be the cause of your child moving onto harder drugs. If you are concerned over why your child is using cannabis, we strongly suggest speaking with them to determine if there is a serious issue they are trying to deal with, as they may move to hard drugs if they are trying to deal with a problem.
If they are simply using cannabis to get high, you don’t need to worry. Cannabis is not addictive and, as long as they are mentally stable, will not cause them to move to hard drugs.
Cannabis use in children does not cause schizophrenia
We discussed the link between marijuana use and psychosis/schizophrenia in this article. If you don’t want to read that article, the conclusion is; Cannabis use, even in underage users, does not pose a risk to increasing the chance of developing schizophrenia. This is due to schizophrenia being contained in a person’s genes – they have schizophrenia before they are born.
Risks of underage marijuana consumption
It is true that cannabis is used to treat children with conditions such as epilepsy, autism and ADHD. However, underage use does pose risks:
Dependency and habit forming: With a daily use of cannabis, underage users are more likely to become dependent on cannabis. Although it is not a physical dependency like heroin, it can be a tough habit to kick.
Excessive use: If an underage user is consuming cannabis excessively (multiple times every day), they can become unmotivated towards the important aspects of life. Using cannabis sparingly will not cause any severe damage, however excessive use is likely to cause them to fall behind in school, bunk off lessons and lose drive for life.
The most damaging aspect of your child using cannabis is they are likely to be mixing it with tobacco. It’s widely known that tobacco is extremely addictive and carcinogenic.
As stated earlier, if you suspect your child is using cannabis regularly, we’d suggest speaking to them to determine if there is an underlying problem.