The new study released this week by the Journal of Neuroscience that shows that even casual use of marijuana can cause structural damage to the brain reminds us that legalization of marijuana has not made the drug harmless.
As a medical professional who has been working with teenagers for more than 20 years, I know marijuana can cause damage and create dependence. It often leads to other, more serious substance use. Plus, marijuana today is more potent and stronger than it was 30 years ago.
Substance use during the teen years can have lasting and permanent effects on teens’ developing brains; there is a correlation between marijuana use and school dropout rates, unemployment, and a feeling of inferiority that impacts self-esteem and motivation.
Some parents expect their kids to try marijuana as a rite of passage. However, I know teenagers don’t want to become addicted to marijuana or any substance, yet, the attention around the legalization of marijuana may reinforce experimentation.
Marijuana use shouldn’t become a societal norm among our teenagers. It is our responsibility to keep this dangerous drug out of children’s hands, whether or not adults have legal access to it.
Dr. Thomas Wright
Chief medical officer
Rosecrance Health Network