The Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention, or NCYSAP, a community coalition dedicated to reducing youth substance use and supporting youth in healthy decision making, is continuing our work to provide educational, science based information to the residents of Needham regarding the impact of youth marijuana use.
It is well known that marijuana is the most widely abused illegal drug among teens, and that more teens now smoke marijuana than tobacco. Marijuana has many adverse health and safety risks—more than people are aware. Here are the facts:
• Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.
• Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Just like drinking and driving, drugged driving is a very serious issue that can have tragic outcomes. In Colorado during after legalizing medical marijuana traffic fatalities with marijuana as the intoxicant doubled.
• Marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, contributing to the risk of cancer of the lungs, mouth and tongue.
• In the past 15 years, the potency of marijuana (THC content) has more than tripled from 3 percent to more than 11 percent.
• Approximately 9 percent (1 in 11) marijuana users become dependent. The earlier young people start using marijuana the more likely they are to be dependent: 1 out of 6 who use marijuana before the age of 18.
• Nationwide, 6.6 percent of high school seniors smoke marijuana every day, rendering them unemployable in companies that use routine employee drug screening.
• Rates of teen marijuana use in Massachusetts are 30 percent higher than the average for the nation.
• Teens that smoke marijuana regularly demonstrate up to an 8-point IQ drop in early adulthood, compared to teens that do not smoke.
In Massachusetts, more kids are admitted to treatment for marijuana use than all other illegal drugs combined.
A study published this August by the University of Colorado, a state with legalized medical marijuana, demonstrates that nearly three-quarters of teens in the treatment programs studied, said they have obtained medical marijuana from a card holder or grower an average of 50 times, meaning “medical” marijuana is indeed being diverted to youth.
Help prevent teen drug use, talk to your teens about these facts. Discourage marijuana use. Parents are the strongest protective factor in reducing youth substance use. Please take a moment to learn more: www.needhamma.gov/substanceabuse.
Carol Read, M.Ed., CAGS
Carol Read is the Program Director of the Needham Coalition for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention ~ NCYSAP, a Drug Free Communities program funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in partnership with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)