“If Marijuana is Legal, Why Can’t I Smoke it?” Know the Facts!

This week (March 20-26) is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) started by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Educators, healthcare providers, scientists, and community partners, will put their heads together to rectify the growing problem of marijuana use disorder or addiction.  According to the helpline of Partnership to End Addiction, it receives more calls about marijuana than other substances.

Marijuana is the main reason that young people enter substance use treatment. Partnership for Drug-Free America reports that nearly 30% of people who use it have a mild, moderate or severe form of marijuana use disorder. Teens and young adults are less likely to develop a marijuana use disorder or addiction if  they delay its use. Otherwise, they are 4 to 7 times more likely than adults to become addicted to marijuana.

Marijuana Is Not So Harmless

Nearly half the United States has legalized marijuana for recreational use, specifically Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, D.C., California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Mississippi, Vermont, Guam, Illinois, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Missouri. It will be a matter of time before the entire U.S. has legalized this drug, I believe.

While marijuana may be sold legally in many states, this doesn’t mean it’s innocuous. Consider these risks:

  • Attention, learning and memory can be negatively impacted.
  • Anxiety and psychoses (how people view reality) can increase. Fearful of someone watching you, including schizophrenia.
  • Brain development can be negatively impacted, including decision-making and impulse control.
  • If driving, reflexes are slower.
  • More suicidal thoughts.
  • Increased ER Visits and calls to poison control for cannabis.

What is in Marijuana?

Cannabis comes from the hemp plant.  The THC in cannabis products is the ingredient that produces a “high” and is stronger than what those at Woodstock Music and Art Fair were probably smoking in 1969.  High potency is defined as THC greater than 15%.  Those who use cannabis products with higher than 15% are 5x more likely to experience psychosis.

Consumers can buy leaf marijuana products with 17% to 28%.  Edibles that look like everyday cookies and oils can have a THC strength of upwards of 95%.

How do I know that my child Can’t Quit or Reduce His Habit? Here are signs:

  • Hanging out with different friends than usual.
  • Not caring about their appearance.
  • Getting lower grades in school.
  • Missing classes or skipping school.
  • Losing interest in their favorite activities.
  • Getting in trouble in school or with law.
  • Having different eating or sleeping habits.
  • Having more problems with family members and friends.

Do you know the Signs of Marijuana Withdrawal:

  • Sweating
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability or anger
  • Loss of appetite, stomach, pain or nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Problems sleeping, including vivid or strange dreams
  • Headache

How To Talk To Your Teen:

If you are worried about where to start, look at conversation starters from the NIDA.  Tell your child you are worried about his safety and health.  Don’t be punitive and remind your child you are there for support and guidance.  Listen and understand their perceptions of marijuana. Be clear about your position on marijuana.

If he is vaping, is it nicotine or marijuana?  Keep an eye on his social media.  He can order through Snap Chat or Tik Tok.  Is he “crossing?”  That means he is using marijuana and alcohol.  What about siblings?  Are they getting secondhand smoke?  How does your child look when he returns home after a “night out?”  Pink-eyed like a rabbit?

Above all, smoking is bad for your health, no matter what you are smoking!


Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.

1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Davidson Moore on March 24, 2023 at 6:34 pm

    Very good article, Wesley. So much good info.
    There’s been so many studies that indicate marijuana use, especially in adolescents and young adults, can lead to psychosis in certain individuals and leads to life-long mental illness symptoms. A very present danger to some, but so underestimated as a danger. I’ll forward this to Our NAMI members in North Ga. Thank you.

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