Wednesday, May 21, 2014

National Prevention Week: Preventing underage marijuana use

This week is National Prevention Week and preventing youth marijuana use is one focus area.  With recreational marijuana retail outlets expected to open this summer, many people are looking for information about how the drug affects teenagers and what parents can do to prevent their children from using.  

Last fall, local experts Drs. Leslie Walker and Kevin Haggerty developed a pamphlet for parents about preventing underage marijuana use. 

This week, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released two updated booklets about marijuana for teens and their parents.
  • Marijuana Facts for Teens discusses the health consequences of marijuana use in this age group, its effect on the developing brain, its addiction risk, and what we know about its potential as a medicine.

Both NIDA publications provide information about marijuana and its impact on adolescent health.  Missing from the parent booklet is information about marijuana concentrates and vaporizing.  Prevention WINS coalition members report that vaporizing marijuana products has become an increasingly popular way for teenagers who use marijuana to consume it.  

Since Washingtonians voted to create a legal commercial marketplace for marijuana, many people have been asking questions about what it means for those under the age of 21.  The Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition created this video which answers many common questions. 

Key points:
  • Marijuana laws did not change for adolescents.  It is still illegal for anyone under 21 to use "recreational" marijuana.  Minors can still obtain "medical" marijuana.    
  • It is illegal for minors to drive under the influence of any amount of marijuana.  
  • It is illegal for adults to supply minors with "recreational" marijuana.  
Like laws regarding alcohol, WA marijuana laws will change over time.  To keep abreast of marijuana policy, visit the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention's website.  

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