What we do know for sure is that smoking marijuana profoundly harms youth.

What we do know for sure is that smoking marijuana profoundly harms youth.

Christian Thurstone, M.D. says, “I’m interested in this subject because 95 percent of the teenagers treated for substance abuse and addiction in my adolescent substance-abuse treatment clinic at Denver Health are there because of their marijuana use, and because nationwide, 67 percent of teens are referred to substance treatment because of their marijuana use.”

Diverted “medical” marijuana increases access while myths fuel perceptions about harmfulness.

“There are active compounds in cannabis that have some therapeutic use for adults, and either have been developed into medications that have received approval from the federal Food & Drug Administration or are currently being studied by the FDA. What we do know for sure is that smoking marijuana profoundly harms youth.

“Marijuana is the No. 1 reason why adolescents seek substance-abuse treatment in the United States.”

The diversion of “medical” marijuana is among the major contributors to teen access to the drug.

The results of the research, with citations, of Dr. Christian Thurstone and the University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center and Denver Health & Hospital Authority are available in this slide show entitled, “Understand the Big Deal:  How Marijuana Harms Youth”

As the research shows, risks of adolescent marijuana use include:

• Psychosis: Adolescents who use marijuana before the age of 18 are 2-4 times more likely to develop symptoms of psychosis in early adulthood than those who do not. This finding has been replicated at least eight times and persists after controlling for many possible confounding variables, such as family history, other substance use and socioeconomic status. These studies have involved thousands and thousands of people over generations and in several populations and countries. Dr. Thurstone explains more about marijuana and psychosis here.
Structural changes to the brain: Animal studies and fMRI studies show changes in brain structure (especially the hippocampus) in people exposed to marijuana during adolescence.
School dropout: Marijuana use in adolescence predicts less school achievement.
Risky sex: Marijuana use predicts risky sexual behaviors, such as not using a condom.
Addiction: There is no longer scientific debate that marijuana is both psychologically and physically addictive.
Aggression: Marijuana withdrawal frequently includes restlessness, nervousness, agitation and insomnia. These, in turn, can lead to aggression.
Accidents are the leading cause of death for adolescents, and marijuana use predicts an increased risk of automobile accidents. One study in France found that of drivers younger than 30 who were killed in a traffic accident, 30 percent were acutely intoxicated by marijuana at the time of their deaths.
Cognition: Marijuana has acute, sub-acute and long-term effects on cognition.

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Vote No on Question 3 in November 2012:  The proposed Massachusetts so-called medical marijuana law is too loose and ripe for abuse. Similar laws are failing in other states.  Informed voters are switching their votes to No.

Massachusetts doctors oppose Question 3, as do the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police.  This is not good public health policy.