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How Medical Marijuana Ads Can Misinform Teens

Medical marijuana is spreading, as is the marketing for it. Teens are exposed to medical marijuana ads through emails and spam email. While they may have just deleted the spam and moved on, studies have shown that teens who have viewed similar ads tend to be misled into using the products that are being promoted. However teens are receiving messages of medical marijuana, they are receiving them more frequently as legalization progresses. The Rand Corporation did research on several groups of adolescents from the ages of 13-19 in Southern California during the time span of 2010-2017 to see how many of them were exposed to marijuana advertising and how they processed the information they were privy to. With California being one of the states at the forefront of having medical marijuana dispensaries and would be eventually legalized recreationally, testing was imperative because of the fluctuation of perceived marijuana advertising that the state would have. The results of the research showed that the teenagers who had higher exposure to medical marijuana advertising also displayed “higher average use, intentions to use, positive expectancies, and negative consequences. Similarly, higher rates of change in medical marijuana advertising exposure were associated with higher rates of change in use, intentions, expectancies, and consequences over 7 years.” The results conclude that the ads put an idea into the teenagers’ mind and swayed them into something that they may have not considered had they not been influenced by the advertising in the first place. One of the main objectives of the Rand Corporation's research is to acknowledge marijuana has been shown to affect a teenager’s brain in a negative manner. The actual structure of the brain is altered significantly, causing the memory and problem solving areas to decline. What the developing teenage brain really needs is to be as healthy and astute as possible. A teenager using marijuana recreationally is damaging their brain. The conclusion of the Rand Corporation research states that “exposure to medical marijuana advertising may not only play a significant role in shaping attitudes about marijuana but may also contribute to increased marijuana use and related negative consequences throughout adolescence”. The report also suggests a need for regulations. Regulations enforced for alcohol and tobacco advertising should be applied to marijuana advertising, researchers urgently suggest, to help reduce the number of teens who may be persuaded to try something that they may not have seen otherwise.

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