National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week Marijuana

National Drugs & Alcohol Facts Week: Marijuana

It’s day four of the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week and today’s topic is marijuana. In the US, marijuana is defined as any cannabis plant that has greater than 0.3% THC. THC is the naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. THC is not to be confused with CBD, which was made legal by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. Both compounds have positive health benefits, including pain, nausea, and migraine relief. However, CBD has little-to-no negative side-effects and no psychoactive properties while THC has both.

Many states have begun legalizing marijuana in the last decade. While decriminalizing weed may be helpful in dealing with America’s drug crisis, it certainly does not mean that marijuana use is not without risk. Here’s a list of 5 big things we think you should know about pot.

  1. Marijuana is stronger than it used to be. According to a study by the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the THC content in marijuana has tripled since 1995. It’s important for parents to understand that the pot they may have experimented with in their teen years is nowhere near as potent as the pot available today.
  2. Marijuana is addictive. One of the most common myths surrounding marijuana is that it’s not addictive. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted, with the number rising to 1 in 6 for those who begin using before the age of 18.
  3. Marijuana has serious health risks. According to SAMHSA, marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss for people who begin using at a young age. Pot is also linked to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychosis. Marijuana is known to reduce athletic performance and impair driving and can cause gestational developmental problems for pregnant women.
  4. Vaping marijuana is dangerous. The FDA recently released a health warning concerning vape products that contain THC. These products have been linked to lung complications that in some cases have been fatal. The chief suspect in these products is Vitamin E Acetate. This compound is safe to use in topical creams and dietary supplements but has not been approved for inhalation. Scientists suspect it may interfere with a natural fluid in the lung called surfactant, which helps make lung tissue stretchy.
  5. Synthetic marijuana is not marijuana and is very dangerous. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic cannabinoids are human-made mind-altering chemicals that come in two forms. The first is a liquid that’s sold to be vaporized. The second form is shredded plants that have the liquid sprayed on them and are designed to be smoked. While these drugs mirror some of the psychotic effects of marijuana, they do not contain actual cannabis. Hundreds of brands like K2, Black Mamba, and Kush sell these products in colorful foil packages and market them as safe, legal alternatives to marijuana. In fact, these cannabinoids are unregulated and can cause permanent brain damage.

It’s important that parents have conversations with their kids about marijuana. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has a great resource for getting the conversation started. Here are a couple of tips:

  1. Get in the right frame of mind. It’s important to not begin the discussion by making your teen feel attacked. Once they have their defenses up, it’s very difficult for them to hear your concern, much less the information you’re trying to share.
  2. Find a comfortable setting and request their attention in an informal way. The less it sounds like a trip to the principal’s office, the better.
  3. Be clear about your concerns and expectations. Do your best to let your concern for the well-being of your teen be the basis for the conversation.
  4. Ask questions and be sure to listen! This will go a long way in keeping the discussion from feeling like a lecture.

These conversations can be difficult, but are extremely important in preventing teens from using marijuana.