Dangers of Marijuana
Today's popular culture and the increased access to information
means that children are vulnerable to messages that promote marijuana as a
harmless drug instead of a dangerous one. By becoming familiar with the
current facts regarding marijuana, the messages promoted in popular culture
and the practices of pro-marijuana advocates, parents can better protect
- Marijuana use is often promoted in popular culture through songs,
magazines, and goods with pro-marijuana messages. In popular music such
as Tom Petty's song, You Don't Know How It Feels (lyrics -
Let's get to the point, Let's roll another joint...), marijuana use
is openly promoted.
- Pro-marijuana magazines such as High Times proudly
market ways to help users test clean and grow marijuana, including
advertisements for marijuana seeds, marijuana growing equipment and drug
- While the Internet offers kids many opportunities for learning,
constructive entertainment, and personal growth, it is also teaming with
sites where marijuana use is praised and marijuana dangers are denied.
Some of these sites, which blatantly promote marijuana use, include:
midweststoners.com, stonernet.com, weedmart.com, and cannabistore.com,
among thousands of other sites. Parents, concerned about the risks their
kids face online, should educate themselves and their children about how
to use the Internet safely. Parents can visit http://www.getnetwise.org
for software programs they can use to block unsuitable web sites and
- Movies, including ones rated PG such as Never Been Kissed,
show marijuana use as harmless or beneficial. In this movie, the
anxious, uptight main character cuts loose for the first time, dancing
seductively and achieving new popularity, under the influence of hashish
- Pro-marijuana goods are marketed by local and national
retailers, from t-shirts with pro-marijuana messages to hemp
necklace-making supplies at craft stores.
Heavy or long-term marijuana use impairs thought and behavior; users
perceive that they are thinking clearly, but objectively are impairing their
memory and decreasing their interest in conventional achievement and
capacity for social interaction.
- During the past decade, kids have started using marijuana at younger
ages. Research shows that the younger a person is when they start using
marijuana, the greater the number and severity of problems they will
experience. (2) The percent of Illinois 8th
graders who used marijuana in the past year increased from 9% in 1990 to
22.8% in 1997. (3)
Dangerous For Teens
The drug impairs short-term memory, ability to concentrate, and
motor skills at a time when these are particularly important to children
developing and learning in school. Marijuana stunts the intellectual,
emotional and psychological development of adolescents. There are more teens
and children in treatment for marijuana than for any other substance,
including alcohol. (4)
A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using marijuana,
alcohol, or any other illegal drug is virtually certain never to do so. (4)
Nearly all users of other illegal drugs used marijuana first. Children who
use marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than non-users. (5)
One study showed that 20% of people who used marijuana 3 to10 times went on
to use cocaine. (6)
Prenatal marijuana use is associated with increased premature
birth. (7) Toddlers exposed to prenatal marijuana were
found to have a lower IQ compared to children who were not exposed (8),
and their sleep patterns were impaired causing more awake time. Sleep
deprivation is frequently associated with emotional and behavioral
difficulties and reduced attention span. (9)
Power Of Parents
Parents have great power in influencing the choices of their
children. Parents should be encouraged to make drug use by their children
unlikely. Parents can:
- Make clear rules against drugs and enforce them with consistency.
- Serve as a positive role model.
- Monitor their children's activities and guide children away from
risky situations and negative peer influence.
- Establish and maintain good communication with their children.
- Appreciate a child's individuality and express appreciation for
- Help children deal with peer pressure and media messages that may
trivialize drug use.
- Medved, M. "Hollywood Again Makes Drug Use Seem Hip,
Sexy." USA Today. Oct. 4, 1999.
- SAMHSA. "Teen marijuana users report psychosocial
problems." SAMHSA News. pp. 2-4. Summer, 1998.
- Chestnut Health Systems. "Illinois Youth Study on
Substance Abuse: Comparing 1993, 1995, and 1997 Results." p. C-4.
- Califano, Joseph A., Jr. "Non-Medical Marijuana: Rite
of Passage or Russian Roulette?" Center on Addiction and Substance
Abuse at Columbia University. July 1999.
- Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia
University. Oct. 27, 1994.
- Kleber, H. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 49:2
(Suppl); pp. 3-6. 1988.
- Cornelius, et al. Pediatrics. 95:738-743.
- Day, et al. Neurotoxicology and Teratology.
- Dahl, et al. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent
Medicine. 149:145-150. 1995.
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