Will New Marijuana Laws Signal a Rise in Youth Addiction (12/20/12)

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With the recent decriminalization of non-medical marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the stigma of the drug has been lessened in the eyes of many people.  In New York State, a recent poll showed that 51percent of residents favored legalization with only 44 percent opposing the measure.

As parents, the ability to provide advice to kids about the dangers of drug use and abuse is complicated by the shift in community acceptance towards marijuana.  Dr. Leslie Walker, a pediatrician and chief of adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital says that marijuana is the No. 1 drug that sends teenagers to her substance abuse clinic.  “Whether your child is 9 or 19, conversations about drugs are even more important to have now.”

Parents must dispel the myths regarding marijuana and offer youth the facts about marijuana.  Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations.  1 in 6 teens become addicted to marijuana if they start at an early age.  This chance can increase for those that use on a daily basis.  

If parents use marijuana themselves, they should be careful about the example they're setting for their children. Dr. Walker says that using marijuana — even legally — in front of children can send a dangerous signal that drugs are the answer to stress. "'Mom's at home smoking some marijuana; it helps mellow her out.' Kids learn those messages, and those are very powerful messages."

Source: NY NOW, Partnership at Drugfree.org, National Institute on Drug Abuse