The use of marijuana is becoming increasingly normalized in the United States. This means that, like alcohol or tobacco, the taboos once associated with smoking grass no longer apply. Because of the normalization and legalization of marijuana use, we must be concerned about young people using marijuana and what it means. Here are three points that parents need to know about marijuana as it is poised to become legal for recreational use in California.
- Marijuana is ten times stronger now than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, which can put young people in dangerous situations. Back when marijuana first became popular, it wasn’t nearly as strong as it is now. Parents need to have conversations with young people about how using marijuana can impair their decision-making ability. Individuals who have just smoked should not operate a motor vehicle, even if they think they are OK to drive. Further, those who have been smoking marijuana are at risk for making poor decisions, such as having unprotected sex or putting themselves in dangerous situations.
- Those who use marijuana under the legal age are far more likely to become addicted than those who wait until 21. It is estimated that those who start using in their teen or tween years are four to seven times more likely to become dependent on marijuana than those who begin using later in life. The younger a person starts smoking weed, the greater the risk of dependence. As with alcohol, encourage young people to wait to start using. Let young people know what your hopes and expectations are for them; they listen a lot more than you might think.
- The human brain finishes maturing around 25 years of age. Another reason to wait to use marijuana is that the human brain does not finish maturing until age 25. Prior to this age, especially in the younger years, marijuana use has a more significant negative impact on the developing brain than it does on the mature brain. This is yet another reason to delay marijuana use.
Parents can have a tremendous impact on the choices their children make. As marijuana becomes legal for recreational use, now is the time to talk about your thoughts on marijuana and encourage the young people in your life to wait before trying marijuana or making a decision to become a marijuana user.