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Is Medical Marijuana Safe for Teenagers?

The legalization of marijuana in states across the United States has raised some questions that are directly related to effect that marijuana could have on teenagers. Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides data that proves there has been no real increase on teens taking up cannabis now that it is legal, however, the question has been raised to recognize whether medical marijuana is safe for teenagers. Even though cannabis may provide medicinal value to many ailments, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) frowns against the use of medical marijuana in teens because of the harm it causes to their developing body. A misconception surrounding marijuana is that it is innocuous because of the natural state it is perceived to be grown in and the medicinal properties it provides.  A clinical report was written in February of 2017 by Seth Ammerman titled Counseling Parents and Teens About Marijuana Use in the Era of Legalization and published on the AAP website. This report provided scientific proof that marijuana causes big problems with teens who start using marijuana at a young age which cannot be reversed at they get older. The goal of the AAP clinical report is to give doctors imperative pointers to educate teens and their parents about what marijuana does to a young person's body in the short term and in the long run.
  • Parents set the example for their kids, so if they do not wish for their teens to follow in their footsteps, then they should not use marijuana in front of their teens. Using the do what I say not what I do perspective can backfire into making a rebellious teen want to try what they see around them.
  • Serious mental health issues including depression, addiction, and possible psychosis can be brought about by the consistent use of marijuana in adolescents.
  • Marijuana smoke contains toxins and chemical that can be detrimental to the user as well as to the people who may be affected by the second-hand smoke.
  • The brain continues to develop up until the early 20's which can generate cognitive defects from simply consuming marijuana. Judgement, decision making, learning abilities, balance, memory, and coordination all continue to diminish with each day of use.
  • Even if all other methods of treatment with severely debilitating or chronic conditions have failed, marijuana use in a minor is still considered a federal offense. Pediatricians and parents should be careful with the consequences that could be posed upon them for allowing the use of medical marijuana with someone who does not have legal consent to use cannabis.
Abiding by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations could be useful for the future of a teen who may otherwise have a problematic experience with the consumption of marijuana.  Discussions among pediatricians, their patients, and their parents can make the difference in guiding a teen to decide against using marijuana in any capacity.

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