Marijuana Impacts on Adolescent Health

May 11, 2016

By Shelley Rogers, Program Manager, Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County

I’m the Program Manager for the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County. We are parents, grandparents, youth, educators, health professionals, law enforcement and more working together toward a vision that young people in our community are free from substance use and have every opportunity grow up healthy and with a positive vision for their future.

I had the opportunity last night in Nevada City to present information on the impacts of marijuana on adolescent health and community norms. My experience has generally been that regardless of one’s opinion about marijuana policies, preventing youth marijuana use is an area of common ground that can be agreed on as important.

Impacts on Adolescent Health

We know that early initiation of marijuana use is linked to a range of developmental and social problems, poorer school performance, and higher drop out rates. A 2012 study of over 1,000 individuals followed from birth through midlife found that ongoing and regular use of cannabis that began as teens was associated with neuropsychological decline across numerous domains, including cognitive and memory problems and declining IQ. Further, cessation of marijuana use did NOT fully restore neuropsychological functioning among adolescent-onset cannabis users (Meier et al, 2012).  – See more at: http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/factsheets/adolescents.htm#sthash.Mh5Dgatj.dpuf

Peer Influence

Adolescence is a time when friends become more influential and intellectual capabilities expand.  Peers have a great deal of influence on our children, but studies show parents have more. In fact, teens say parents are biggest reason they choose to not use marijuana, alcohol or any other drug. We parents, grandparents, and educators have an opportunity to share consistent messages with kids about how using drugs interferes with brain development and can limit opportunities for their future. Parents should talk early and often about family rules, expectations, and to be clear and consistent about consequences. Shocking as it may be, sometimes adolescents want you to say no. By setting and enforcing rules, parents give teens predictability and structure, as well as a way to combat peer pressure. Left to their own devices, teens often do whatever it takes to be accepted by other teens, including falling in with the wrong crowd and getting in trouble. Without your caring oversight, teens are left feeling isolated and alone.

Here is some helpful information:

http://www.drugfree.org/the-parent-toolkit/

http://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking

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