Is marijuana more dangerous to the developing brain than lead? One researcher thinks so and is working to prove it. Scary, right? I’ll keep you informed.
Because marijuana is a medicine prescribed by doctors (air quotes implied) in 23 states and DC, young people think it’s safe. Because adult recreational use of marijuana is legal in four states and D.C., young people think it’s safe. Because the number of states looking to legalize marijuana use by people over 21 is increasing, young people think it’s safe.
But it’s not. Even if we agree that marijuana isn’t a gateway drug or isn’t addictive, we do know that the brain isn’t fully developed until a person is in her/his mid-20s. Legal use of the more potent strains of marijuana available today from ages 21 until 26, for instance, harms the brain and may lower IQ points. And kids are adding dangerous drugs and chemicals to their weed. Parents know the weed smoked today is stronger, but many find it difficult to adjust their own perceptions of harm accordingly.
At our recent Strategic Partners meeting, Glendale Fire captain and paramedic Jeff Ragusa and Katherine Kasmir of Straight Up spoke about the parents of teens they encounter. Some parents are their kids’ friends and party with their children. Others are clueless and waste time and resources because they don’t know what drug their child’s using. Others do know what’s going on, as well as we can truly know another person. Regardless of where you fall on the parenting spectrum, we all need to talk to other parents so collectively we can raise our children well.
That means we know each other and share information. If we are having trouble we ask for help. We don’t shame or stigmatize people in need. And we don’t internalize judgments of those people we haven’t agreed to let judge us. Our kids are watching even if they’re not talking.
Next year adult legalization of marijuana is on our ballot. We’re going to discuss this topic at March 4, 2016 at our Strategic Partners meeting from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at USC VHH. Put it in your calendar today.
Suzy Jacobs, Executive Director,
3516 N. Verdugo Road
Glendale, CA 91208 (818) 646-7867