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A report was released this September 2015 by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program after one full year of legalized recreational use of marijuana in Colorado.
I bring this report to you for two reasons:
- Many states are looking at legalizing marijuana and voters may appreciate reading Colorado’s official report.
- Adolescent marijuana use rose significantly, suggesting that new state laws should be enforced to better protect marijuana from children.
Marijuana and Children
Sadly, while the laws legalizing marijuana were designed to protect children from exposure to marijuana, the results of this most recent report (see below) may be a worst nightmare for an adolescent’s parent.
In 1995, the average amount of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) count in marijuana was 3.96% nationally. In 2013, the national average went up to 12.55%. In Colorado, the average THC count in marijuana is 17.1%. (1) I see this as a scary statistic for at-risk children.
Marijuana edibles tend to be more potent than smoking marijuana, and many times look and taste like cookies or candy. Finally, new regulations were passed to enforce potency limits and more stringent labeling requirements due to the influx of marijuana-related child hospitalizations. (8) These new labeling and potency requirements were only in regard to edibles – limiting potency levels to 10 or fewer milligrams of activated THC per individually wrapped unit. For adolescents, a 10mg dose of edible THC is still considered an extremely high dose. (9) It can sometimes take edibles up to 2 hours to experience an effect, and denser products such as brownies can take even longer! (9)
Can you imagine your teenager or yourself as a teenager eating one marijuana cookie or chocolate, and then waiting 2 hours for the effects without trying a second one to try to speed up the process? Seems all too easy to get way too powerful of a dose…
The report cited: (1)
- A 29% increase in marijuana-related Emergency Room visits.*
- A 38% increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations.*
- A 40% increase in drug-related school suspensions and/or expulsions (majority marijuana-related).*
- A 20% increase in 12-17 year olds on probation.
*The term “marijuana-related incident” can be very misleading. The THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana can linger in the blood for weeks and result in a positive test for marijuana and, therefore, be reported as a marijuana-related incident – while marijuana usage may have not been involved in the incident. In the HIDTA report, they define marijuana-related incident as, “not indicative of whether marijuana is the cause or not, simply that the patient admitted to smoking marijuana or had it in their system.”
While marijuana has been found to be safe for moderate recreational use in adult studies (2), the science is quite clear regarding the cognitive risks for adolescent teenagers whose brains are still developing. Adolescent onset of marijuana use is associated with neurotoxicity and levels of permanent cognitive and IQ decline. (3,4)
We RecommendUnderstanding Marijuana
While Colorado is learning, actively changing and upgrading the laws around the marijuana industry, I personally believe child safety in this matter should be a top priority.