Marijuana Use and Youth: A Parent's Guide

Marijuana (Cannabis) is the most commonly used drug by young people 15 to 30 years old. Although it has serious risks associated with its usage, people often times think marijuana is harmless.

Marijuana impacts the development of teens. Because the bodies and brains of young people are still developing, marijuana has a higher risk of harming young people. Used regularly, marijuana can trigger changes and cause damage to the brain. It also impairs coordination and judgment, so users are at higher risk of injury, especially used prior to, or while driving, increasing the likelihood of a collision.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is the drug made from the flowered buds, leaves and stems of the Cannabis plant. Marijuana goes by many names, like grass, pot, dope, weed, and Mary Jane. Marijuana is most commonly smoked and  vaporised with an e-cigarette.

Short-term effects of marijuana?

When marijuana is smoked, THC (the main active chemical in cannabis) goes from the lungs into the bloodstream and the brain, causing a “high”. Short-term use, effects can include:

  • feeling intense relaxation and happiness, a sense of euphoria,
  • lack of coordination,
  • difficulty problem solving and thinking,
  • short-term memory loss,
  • hunger,
  • drowsiness or lightheadedness,
  • distorted perception,
  • anxiety and/or paranoia.

Long-term effects of marijuana?

Using marijuana regularly can cause brain changes and permanent brain damage.  Long-term, regular marijuana use has been associated with a variety of risky behaviours and problems:

Mental health:

  • Psychotic illnesses (losing touch with reality)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

School performance:

  • Dropping out of school
  • Difficulty concentrating, solving problems, and remembering things
  • Grades dropping
  • Falling behind in class

Substance abuse:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Heavy drinking
  • Cancers and lung disease
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, lung, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, and stomach
  • Emphysema and chronic bronchitis

Does my child is using marijuana?

Some signs to look out for:

  • Has glassy or red eyes, at times
  • Spends less time with family and friends, or has a recent change in friends
  • Seems moodier
  • Loses interest in sports or hobbies
  • His grades are slipping or skip classes
  • Smells like marijuana (skunky)
  • Owns pipes, rolling papers, bongs, etc.
  • Suffers regular injuries

How can I protect my children?

If you use any form of marijuana, keep it well out of reach of children. Younger children can accidentally ingest marijuana-infused foods that look like candy or desserts. Unintentional ingestion can cause overdose symptoms like breathing problems and severe drowsiness. If this happens, your child needs urgent medical care.

My child uses marijuana, what can I do?

  • Don’t panic.
  • Let your child know that you care and that you want to make sure that they have correct information about the risks of using marijuana and the problems it can cause.
  • Have an open discussion about the risks of marijuana on their developing brain.
  • Make sure they understand the dangers of driving while or after smoking marijuana.  
  • A health professional at Family Kickstart Georgia (FKSG) can help as well. FKSG recommends that young people do not use marijuana.

1 Comment

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