Calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms have risen in Colorado and Washington.
DENVER — The first two states to legalize recreational marijuana are starting to grapple with teenagers’ growing use of highly potent pot, even as both boost the industry and reap huge tax windfalls from its sales.
Though the legal purchase age is 21 in Colorado and Washington, parents, educators and physicians say youths are easily getting hold of edibles infused with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component that causes a high, and concentrates such as “shatter,” a brittle, honey-colored substance that is heated and then inhaled through a special device.
Each poses serious risks to adolescents’ physical and mental health.
“Underage kids have unbelievable access to nuclear-strength weed,” said Andrew Brandt, a Boulder, Colo., software executive whose son got hooked while in high school.
With some marijuana products averaging 68 percent THC – exponentially greater than the pot baby boomers once smoked – calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms have risen. In the Denver area, visits to Children’s Hospital Colorado facilities for treatment of cyclic vomiting, paranoia, psychosis and other acute cannabis-related symptoms jumped to 777 in 2015, from 161 in 2005.
The increase was most notable in the years following legalization of medical sales in 2009 and retail use in 2014, according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health published in 2018.
“Horrible things are happening to kids,” said psychiatrist Libby Stuyt, who treats teens in southwestern Colorado and has studied the health impacts of high-potency marijuana. “I see increased problems with psychosis, with addiction, with suicide, with depression and anxiety.”
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A young adult's proximity to the location of medical marijuana dispensaries appears to be associated with a higher likelihood of marijuana use, with storefront advertising having the strongest influence on behavior. A RAND Corporation study examining trends in Los Angeles County drew this conclusion and is published online in the journal Addiction. “Our findings suggest that as the marijuana retail outlets become more visible and more numerous, they may influence the way that young adults perceive and use marijuana,” study lead author Regina Shih, a RAND senior behavioral scientist, said in a news release.
The Health Eeffects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids
Millions of Americans get behind the wheel while high from smoking marijuana, a study released on Wednesday said.
An estimated 14.8 million Americans said they’ve driven while high at least once in the past month and nearly 70 percent believe they won’t get busted by cops, according to the American Automobile Association.
“It’s terrifying,” said Helen Witty, the national president for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “Impairment is impairment. We should be terrified, as law abiding citizens, that there are so many people out on the road driving impaired on anything. Drive when [you] are sober – otherwise, don’t drive.”
Drunk driving has declined by 50 percent since MADD was founded in 1980, but it’s up 9% since 2014. Traffic fatalities and injuries caused by drunk drivers have also decreased since their founding.
However, millions of drivers are toking weed instead and seven percent of survey respondents said they had no problem driving after smoking marijuana. In comparison, just 1.6-percent said they were comfortable driving while drinking alcohol.
Police departments across the country are training more and more cops to identify drugged drivers, Witty said, but the methods are far from refined.
“The science is emerging still on a standard of impairment,” she said. “I’m so sorry that all this has been legalized before the science is there.”
imagine the suffering that could have been averted if these criminals hadn't been potheads:
- Ferguson's suicide-by-cop Michael Brown
- Aurora theater murderer James Holmes
- Islamic Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
- Miami cannibal Rudy Eugene
- Trayvon Martin
- Baltimore's Freddie Gray
- Manchester Muslim terrorist Salman Abedi
- Vegas Strip murderer Lakeisha Holloway
- Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear
- Infamous murderer Jodi Arias
- Chattanooga's Islamic terrorist Muhammad Abdulazeez
- Tuscon massacre mass murderer James Loughner, and many more.
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