Preventing Underage Marijuana Use

Young people start using marijuana for many reasons. Curiosity, peer pressure, and the desire to fit in with friends are common ones. Those who have already begun to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol, or who have untreated mental health conditions (such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD), or who have experienced trauma are at increased risk for marijuana use.

NIDA's annual Monitoring the Future survey reports that marijuana use has remained stable over the past few years among 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade students. About 10 percent of 8th graders, 26 percent of 10th graders, and 37 percent of 12th graders reported using marijuana in the last year. At the same time, teens are developing more positive attitudes about using marijuana, with 71 percent of high school seniors saying they do not view regular marijuana smoking as very harmful.*

People who use marijuana may roll loose marijuana leaves into a cigarette (called a joint) or smoke it in a pipe or a water pipe often referred to as a bong. Some people mix marijuana into foods (called edibles) or use it to brew tea. Another method is to slice open a cigar and replace some or all of the tobacco with marijuana, creating what is known as a blunt. Some people are vaping—using electronic vaporizers (called e-vaporizers or vapes) that allow people to inhale vapor and not smoke. Another popular method on the rise is vaping THC-rich resins extracted from the marijuana plant, a dangerous practice called dabbing.

Side Effects of Using Marijuana

The short-term effects are:

  • Learning, attention, and memory problems

  • Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, and touch)

  • Poor coordination and motor skills

  • Increased heart rate

  • Anxiety and paranoia

  • Poor judgment, which can lead to dangerous behaviors (driving under the influence or risky sexual behavior)

The long-term effects are:

  • Marijuana addiction

  • Long-term learning and memory problems, which can lead to school failure, lower-income, and poorer quality of life

  • Chronic cough and bronchitis

  • In rare cases, recurrent episodes of severe nausea and vomiting

  • Increased risk for several mental problems, including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, personality disturbances, and psychosis

Tips on Preventing Marijuana Use

Research shows when students become confused about the consequences of teen substance use, they are more likely to use than a child who is clear about these issues. To reverse this risk and protect our teens, we must know the truth and consistently speak about it with them.  Identify common misconceptions students hold about marijuana use, and learn health-based

realities behind these misconceptions. 

Below are some free resources to assist in this process:

Our Drug-Free Communities Grant enables us to prevent access to underage access to marijuana. The Stephens County Youth Coalition allows teens the opportunity to have a voice in changing their community. To learn more, click on the button below:​

*Source Miech RA, Schulenberg JE, Johnston LD, et al. National adolescent drug trends in 2017: Findings released [Press release]. Ann Arbor, MI. December 2017. Available at: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/.

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