Pot May Be Legal – But Is It Safe?
Marijuana laws (and how we think about marijuana) are changing rapidly.
Many states have now legalized it or lowered the fines and we’re seeing a big shift in how our culture uses, and perceives, marijuana.
As an addiction treatment facility, we’ve treated hundreds of people with substance use disorders and have a lot of experience with marijuana and other drugs.
The biggest question we ask is this:
How Will The Use Of Marijuana Impact A Person’s Life?
Alcohol is legal and many people consume it without any negative impact on their life while others experience problems that harm their lives and relationships. Marijuana will be no different and, while it may soon be legal where you live, we have to consider how its use will affect a person’s life. Recent studies find that 30% of those who use marijuana have some degree of marijuana use disorder (source).
Laws Influence How We Think About Marijuana
Another example to point to is the tobacco industry. Several decades ago, tobacco was not perceived as dangerous and it was common for people to smoke in public places and around children. Then laws began to change; stricter limits were placed on how tobacco could be sold and advertisers were prohibited from making their brands attractive to underage audiences.
A similar (but opposite) shift is occurring where the loosening laws are creating a loosened perception of harm for marijuana.
Regardless of the level of harm that is associated with marijuana, some people will have problems that negatively affect their lives.
How Will It Affect Youth?
All substance uses affect brain development and youth will be most impacted because their brains are still in the process of being fully developed. A recent study showed that individuals that start using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder (source). Another important factor to consider is that marijuana use can lead to the use of other drugs for some people so teens may find that marijuana can be a slippery slope that leads to other substances.
As laws change, and the use of marijuana becomes more prevalent, it’s important for youth and families to understand how marijuana use can impact the brain.
Is there a teen or young adult in your life who struggled with substance use? Learn more about Multidimensional Family Therapy.
The use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana may affect a person’s life and should always be treated with caution. Marijuana may affect brain development, relationships, activities such as driving, and may lead to the use of other substances. As laws and cultural acceptance of marijuana change, it is important to be careful and reach out if you or a loved one needs help.
If you need help with a substance use disorder or have any questions, we are only a phone call away and can be reached at 715.235.4537.