Decriminalization debate confusing for youth

Substance abuse counsellor says marijuana is a drug of illusion for young people


Special to The Morning Star

As a youth substance abuse counsellor, I see many kids every week and I will limit my comment to this demographic.

Marijuana is a drug of illusion for young people. They believe that it does not affect them. Recent research has revealed some very important information about marijuana which all families should consider. Scientific literature shows that cannabis affects young people in many negative ways.  It is linked to lowering attention span, reduced reaction time and co-ordination.

Further, the American Medical Association (AMA) has come out strongly against the legalization and sale of marijuana.

Its research has shown that marijuana contributes to psychosis and schizophrenia, leads to addiction in one of six children who ever try the drug and reduces the IQ among those who used marijuana regularly before the age of 18 (Addiction professional, 2014).

A study at Arizona State University (2014) found that individuals who started using cannabis once a week or more in adolescence and used it for years thereafter showed an average eight-point IQ decline. Furthermore, quitting or reducing cannabis use did not appear to fully restore intellectual function among those who persistently used cannabis as adolescents (, 2014).

Another fallacy regarding cannabis use is it is a drug used to relax or chill. Although this may be true for some, the Center for Substance Abuse Research (2014) has shown that among juvenile arrestees, marijuana is the most detected drug in the bodies of young offenders (39 per cent compared to cocaine at 0.2 per cent and PCP 0.2 per cent)

I have closely watched the decriminalization/legalization debate in North American society and it concerns me. It causes great confusion for young adults. Our kids believe that if something is legal, then it must be safe. Remember, alcohol and tobacco are legal and responsible adults would never give children these drugs.

Parents, insist upon a no-use rule for your kids. Marijuana is not a safe drug for children.


Doug Rogers is substance abuse counsellor with the Vernon School District.