Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Does Legalized Marijuana Put the Drug in the Hands of Teens?

It’s a concern that weighs heavily on the minds of parents and legislators across the country as more and more states move to legalize marijuana for more than just medicinal use: Will the drug more often fall into the hands of teens and, as a result, create higher rates of teen drug abuse? According to the Miami Herald, many believe that the answer to that question is an undeniable “yes,” and a number of parents are trying to figure out how best to protect their children as a result.

A Look at the Evidence

A watchful eye has turned to Colorado where marijuana is legalized for recreational purposes, and according to The Denver Post, the concern that more teens are abusing drugs as a result of the legislative change is warranted. Though it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or use marijuana in Colorado, many school officials across the state are reporting that more and more kids are bringing the substance to school. The issue has been a consistent problem since 2010 when the drug was legalized for medical use and has steadily increased since the state legalized the drug for recreational purposes in 2012.

It’s not a small issue either. Mike Dillon is a school resource officer with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department. He told The Denver Post, “When we have middle school kids show up with a half an ounce, that is shocking to me.”

Tolerance Turns to Acceptance

When adults use their votes to send the message that marijuana use is harmless, teens listen and think that this applies to them as well.

Kevin Sabet is the director of the University of Florida Drug Policy Institute and advised the current and former presidents on drug issues. Says Sabet, “Kids are going to be bombarded with this—they’re already getting the message that it’s acceptable.”

Those who support legalization say that forcing marijuana onto the black market by keeping it illegal is of no help to teenagers either. But the evidence thus far seems to find that legalizing the drug is doing nothing to protect kids and is in fact increasing the chances of harm due to abuse.

Protecting Your Son

If you believe that your son is abusing drugs or alcohol of any kind, don’t ignore the signs. Even if you believe that marijuana is safe for moderate use in adults or for medicinal purposes, study after study has shown that use of the drug in any amount during the teen years is detrimental to growth and development on a number of levels. Call us at Muir Wood now and learn more about how you can help to protect your son from the effects of teen drug abuse today.