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The illicit use of marijuana extends beyond that of adults and teens – even children use this drug under a variety of circumstances. However, the risks and problems associated with marijuana use by children are generally more severe than those for adults, as a child’s burgeoning physical development can be slowed or impaired by marijuana use. This is a troubling concern considering that today, some children abuse marijuana illicitly, and some are even prescribed it legitimately for a surprising number of ailments. Understanding the implications of children and marijuana use is critical in order to develop and implement comprehensive education and prevention programs.
Most children are exposed to marijuana by their parents. Parents who smoke marijuana are generally thought to be less capable parents and therefore the behavioral problems this causes can often lead a child to experiment with the drug prematurely. In fact, according to an article for the National Center for Biotechnology information, a the impact of a parent that smokes marijuana may be far more reaching than previously thought;
“Thirty-one percent of the multiple regression analyses revealed significant interactions between the effect of tobacco or marijuana use and a personality attribute on child rearing. The majority of these significant interactions suggested that protective personality characteristics were offset by substance use risks resulting in less adequate child rearing. If these results are substantiated in an experimental intervention, it suggests that having resilient personality attributes does not protect against the negative effects of tobacco or marijuana use on child rearing.” (1)
However, it’s not always parents who influence their children to smoke marijuana or abuse other drugs. Children as young as 8 or 9 nine years old have been known to smoke marijuana and many young kids report little difficulty in procuring the drug. Illicit use of marijuana by children often leads to severe effects including behavioral problems, deteriorating academic standings, antisocial behavior, depression, isolation and withdrawal, among other issues.
Whether marijuana is a “gateway drug” is the subject of much debate, but many in the fields of substance abuse and addiction believe that marijuana use in children and teens can act as a catalyst to use other more dangerous drugs like cocaine, meth, ecstasy and crack. But whether this theory can ever be proven or not doesn’t detract from the common sense nature of that fact that if children are exposed to marijuana use they will be more likely to use it themselves.
But in today’s world, marijuana use among children has entered a whole new era. Children in states like California can get legitimate prescriptions for very high quality marijuana to treat conditions like hyperactivity, Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD, and other conditions. This is a relatively new phenomenon that has been studied little. However, in his article Marijuana Prescribed to Kids with ADHD, David Knowles writes;
“Though California says it has issued more than 36,000 medical marijuana cards since 2004, the state does not compile statistics on prescriptions for specific conditions, such as ADHD. And many doctors and patients are reluctant to talk about it. Still, experts say such prescriptions are becoming more common as the number of pot dispensaries and doctors prescribing marijuana continues to grow. ” (2)
But whether you agree with this type of treatment or not, the primary issue here is that no parent wants their child to use drugs. However, in the likely event that prescriptions of this type continue to increase, more education and study on the matter will be required in order to keep our youth safe.
If you or someone you live has a drug problem, you need to get help right now. Call the number at the top of your screen now for a free, confidential consultation. We’re standing by 24 hours per day, so there’s no reason not to call right now.
(1) Judith S. Brook, Ed.D.,1,5 Elinor B. Balka, B.A.,3 Kezhen Fei, M.S.,2 and Martin Whiteman, Ph.D.4 The Effects of Parental Tobacco and Marijuana Use and Personality Attributes on Child Rearing in African-American and Puerto Rican Young Adults National Center for Biotechnology Information