As the Prevention WINS coalition plans for addressing the decreasing perception of risk associated with marijuana use among teenagers in NE Seattle, understanding what the risks are is important.
An article about the adverse health effects of marijuana use was published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month. It especially highlights the harmful effects of marijuana use among teenagers. From the article:
Intoxication: When under the influence of marijuana, it can interfere with memory, perception of time, and coordination which can lead to consequences such as motor vehicle crashes.
Addiction: One in six people who start using marijuana as teenagers become addicted to the drug. Among those who use marijuana daily, 25 to 50% become addicted.
Brain development: Frequent use of marijuana from adolescence into adulthood is associated with significant declines in IQ. This may be due to fewer connections established in the brains of people who used marijuana regularly during the teen years compared to people who did not. These long lasting brain changes can hinder academic and social achievements.
Yes, teen alcohol, tobacco, and opiate use are risky, too. Like most drug use prevention programs, the Prevention WINS coalition addresses multiple substances used by teenagers and provides information about the harms associated with all of them. The current focus on marijuana is a result of the declining perception of risk among NE Seattle teens who receive messages from adults in the wider community that marijuana is a safe drug to use.