Should I be concerned about my child’s marijuana use?
The marijuana plant has been around for ages, and many parents themselves dabbled in it growing up. With the recent increase in marijuana use among preteens, and adolescents naturally you think to yourself “is it such a bad thing?” “I tried it a few times in high school and it was not a problem.” Just some things to keep in mind based on current trends and new research.
Marijuana being smoked today is not your grandma’s weed. Just to clarify, the marijuana plant contains over 400 different chemicals, but the two main chemicals that researchers are interested in are CBD (cannabidiol), and THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabidiol). THC is the psychoactive, addictive chemical that makes a user feel ‘high,’ and CBD has no psychoactive effect and is mostly known for its medical use.
If we compare marijuana being smoked just 20 years ago we are looking at a significant increase in THC content. Roughly 20 years ago, the average joint being rolled and smoked contained 4-5% THC, the current average is about 15% THC, and there are many strains that are much stronger. Also, a new form of marijuana that is not actually in the form of the plant but rather the oils extracted directly from the plant (usually using a harmful chemical like butane), contains 80-90% THC. That is a WHOLE LOT of THC, the psychoactive, addictive chemical in the marijuana plant. This THC concentrate also known as ‘hash oil,’ ‘wax,’ ‘shatter,’ can be smoked or put in a vape pen.
The inhalation of these harsh chemicals on the developing brain and body are just bad news. Parents run into a difficult conversation when it comes to talking to their teens about marijuana. I hear time and time again that teens are stumping their parents with arguments like “its natural,” “at least I’m not smoking cigarettes,” “marijuana is medicinal and is prescribed by doctors,” the list goes on and on. I can’t blame teens for thinking all these things, because the messages that they’re getting are the same exact messages that people were getting back in the 50s and 60s with tobacco products. Check out these old cigarette ads:
YES, EVEN ‘DOCTORS’ are smoking these brands so YOU SHOULD TOO! Again, this is NO different than what was happening with Big Tobacco.
Smoking anything is just not good for you. An adolescent brain and body is still in the process of growing and strengthening. That is why it is so important for parents to encourage, through scientific research and education, that their preteen/teen avoid the use of any illicit substances that can affect their brain and body growth, increase their tolerance, and potentially lead to dependence.
Read my future blog articles to see more specifics on drug addiction and adolescent brain development.