Gotta Know This About Pot

Gotta Know This About Pot

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Along with spreading legalization of marijuana, there’s also a growing body of information about marijuana’s effects on the brain. This CNN article points to the scary and often underappreciated fact that marijuana can cause psychosis. You read that right. As a doctor I have seen it, and I can pretty much guarantee you that no kid is looking for this particular side effect. When it happens, a psychotic episode can be terrifying or even life-threatening.

               Tweens, teens, and even 20-somethings have slowly developing brains that are far more susceptible to many drug effects. Studies also show quite clearly that risks for addiction or lifetime use increase when people start smoking, drinking, or using at younger ages. It all has to do with incomplete maturity of the brain. This article is a little bit old, but it’s still completely true and relevant.

                Some parents tell me that they appreciate the information, but they used marijuana as kids and they are fine. The trouble is, today’s marijuana is nothing like the drug of a generation ago. First off, it is way more potent. Most studies suggest that the average concentration of the psychoactive component of pot – THC – has nearly tripled over the past couple of decades. This article explains more. And then you need to add in the fact that the way people consume it has changed. Yes, many still smoke pot, but they also vape it, eat it, even use oils to rub onto the skin. Depending upon what type of marijuana is being used and how it gets into the body, the effects really vary. Edibles, for instance, can take a long time to pass from the stomach into the bloodstream and up to the brain. So kids who are expecting to feel high immediately might eat more and more because they feel nothing after 20 or 30 minutes. Edibles are the one way I have seen kids overdose on marijuana.

                The best way to help your kids make smart decisions is to talk about the decisions they will inevitably face. Share these articles with them, talk about the changing drug landscape, and help them figure out how they are going to handle all this stuff as it comes their way.