Many teens and their parents trivialize marijuana use. They shouldn't.
The average potency of today's marijuana is 244% higher -- yes, you read that right -- than the average potency of marijuana smoked in the 1980s. As a result, today's marijuana is more addictive and harmful -- especially for adolescents, who are in crucial stages of brain development. Parents shouldn't dismiss today's teen marijuana use based on their own use of lower potency pot when they were young. What kids smoke today is not their parents' marijuana.
Largely because of the legalization of marijuana for medical use in several states, the drug is more available, accessible -- and socially accepted. Already, government agencies across our country are reporting sharp increases in problems associated with adolescent marijuana use. High school seniors are using marijuana at rapidly increasing rates that have not been seen in the United States for three decades.
This combination of a stronger drug and more drug use is bad news. Decades of research on the negative effects of marijuana on the developing brain are yielding disturbing results. These new findings -- many of which point to long term and permanent cognitive deficits -- should concern parents and teenagers. Marijuana use is associated with:
lower academic achievement
high school and college dropout
serious mental health problems
chronic, lifelong struggle with drug addiction
While many teenagers use marijuana with no apparent ill effects, the drug robs many others of their future.