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Marijuana Negatively Affects Teens and Children

This November, alongside a highly contentious presidential race, Californians will vote on 154 state and federal legislative races and 17 state propositions. One of the most consequential of these is Proposition 64, the so-called “Adult Use of Marijuana Act.” Despite its innocuous name, California Family Council joins numerous local, state, and federal organizations in strongly urging you to vote NO on 64.

Last year, in Colorado the percentage of youth using marijuana was 11.6% compared to the national average for youth of 7.15%. A study from Daily CBD reporting on the impact of the legalization of marijuana also found:

There was a 40 percent increase in drug-related suspensions and expulsions in Colorado from school year 2008/2009 to 2013/2014. And a 20 percent increase in the percent of 12 to 17 year old probationers testing positive for marijuana since marijuana was legalized for recreational purposes.

One school resource officer in Colorado recounted how the commercialization and legalization of marijuana has influenced his school:

“In April 2015, five middle school students were observed on the playground passing around what appeared to be a marijuana joint. When contacted, each admitted to consuming marijuana on campus. When asked were (sic) the marijuana was obtained, one of the students admitted taking it from his father.”

Other school resource officers explained that students were bringing vapor pens to school and smoking marijuana in class. One 8 year old was found with vapor pens in possession and tested positive for marijuana. The Washington Post noted that researchers generally agree that “people who start using marijuana in their teens are more likely to become dependent on the drug later in their lives, and may be at higher risk of other physical and mental health problems related to marijuana use.” Rates of marijuana poisonings among small children in Colorado increased post-legalization and the Washington Post further noted that there were 47 marijuana-related poison control center calls in Colorado in 2015, up from 25 only two years previously.

Like California, Massachusetts is also currently considering whether to legalize recreational marijuana. On Wednesday, October 12, 2016, Doctor Bertha Madras, a Psychobiology Professor at Harvard University, spoke to a high school group in Wilbraham, Massachusetts about the negative effects of marijuana on a teen’s brain.

WWLP.com reported how Doctor Madras said voters should look at states like Colorado and Washington as examples of why legalizing pot is a bad idea; “There’s more homelessness, there’s more traffic fatalities, there’s a greater amount of students using now, in both college and in high school.”

“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Studies also show that continued cannabis use is associated with a 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes among adolescents.

Perhaps the most staggering information is the role that marijuana seems to play in teen suicide. Suicides has risen in Colorado since 2009, and marijuana was the common substance found in the body of those ages 10-19 who committed suicide. Sixteen percent had marijuana, versus 11 percent had alcohol.

The commercialization and legalization of marijuana makes it all too easy for minors to access and abuse it. Proposition 64 should be emphatically rejected as dangerous for California’s youth.


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