As we are all well aware, marijuana use has been legalized in twenty-three states and the District of Columbia. In some states, this use is limited to medicinal purposes, other states are now allowing recreational use of pot.
What kind of message does this send to our youth? My investigation has led me to hear the following comments from a variety of teenagers, ages 12 through 18 years:
- “It is just pot”
- “It is no big deal – alcohol is harder on your body than weed”
- “It is natural and non-addictive
This is concerning because these sort of comments indicate an acceptance of marijuana use among our youth and a probable increase in use or approval of use of marijuana. Obviously, many teens are no longer perceiving marijuana use with the same seriousness as in the past. Consider the following statistics:
- 16.6 % of 10th graders used marijuana in the last month
- 21.2% of 12th graders used marijuana in the last month
- 6% of 12th graders use marijuana on a daily basis 
Risk of Use
So, if our kids are becoming desensitized to marijuana and using it often, what is the risk? Is this just the normal evolution of society and something we should accept or is this a problem? I ask these questions in light of the following facts:
- Marijuana affects brain development – memory & learning functions
- Regular marijuana smokers, who started in their teenage years, lose about 8 points in their IQ scores, and this does not come back, even if they quit using pot.
- About 1 out of 11 marijuana users become addicted 
These facts lead me to conclude that marijuana is highly destructive for our youth, particularly during their formative physical, social and emotional development years. We already have concerning rates of students dropping out of school, escalating school violence episodes and increased depression in our kids. Adding marijuana to the equation sounds disastrous to me.
Please join me and Addiction Hope in speaking out and with our kids about the dangers of marijuana use. Many excellent resources to start the conversation can be found at Partnership for Drug Free Kids. Our kids are the future, they need our benevolent and informed guidance to navigate this increasingly complex world.
About the author:
Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC – Founder & Director
Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions (such as gambling, sex, shopping, etc). Because she believes in holistic recovery that addresses all of the destructive patterns or behaviors engaged in by the individual, it became clear that it would be helpful to also have a site that deals foremost with addiction, for those that suffer from addiction as a primary concern.
Jacquelyn Ekern is a fully licensed therapist and she manages both the Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope organizations and websites.
Jacquelyn has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree from The University of Phoenix and a Masters degree in Counseling/Psychology, from Capella University. She is a member of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), Academy of Eating Disorders (AED), the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp).
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 18, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com
1. High School and Youth Trends. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends
2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2014. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4887. NSDUH Series H-49.
3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana