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Marijuana, Its’ Not for Everybody

November 3rd, 2013 at Sun, 3rd, 2013 at 4:38 pm by maribeth crandell


Last year Washington voters approved a law which allows adults to possess small amounts of marijuana.  Marijuana infused candy, soft drinks, baked goods and juices are now legal.  Marijuana advertising online, in magazines, newspapers, flyers and billboards is also legal.  What kind of message does this send to young people?

Every two years a national Healthy Youth Survey is conducted with kids in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12.  Students respond anonymously to a myriad of questions including questions about smoking, drinking, and drug use.  The good news is 73% of high school seniors in Washington State said they do not use marijuana.  However, after alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug for students who use drugs.  In Island County marijuana use increased between 8th grade and 10th grade.  About 20% of 10th graders said they’d used marijuana in the past 30 days.

The survey results also indicated that the most influential people for teens are their parents.  Parents are role models so it’s best to practice what we preach.  It’s crucial that parents talk with their teens early, starting in 4th or 5th grade, about drugs and alcohol use.  There are many misunderstandings about marijuana and the laws around it. Even if parents used marijuana in the past, things have changed.

First of all, like alcohol, it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to use marijuana.  There is “zero tolerance” for anyone to drive after using any amount of marijuana.

For those over 21, it is a felony to be in possession of over 40 grams of marijuana.  It is a felony for an adult to provide marijuana to people under the age of 21, including parents providing pot to their own kids in their own home.  It’s illegal to consume marijuana in any form (smoke, eat, drink) in public.  If you have a prescription for medical marijuana, it is illegal to share it with someone else.

Teens that use marijuana regularly may have trouble with weight gain, concentration and memory.  They often suffer from aggression, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations and depression.  Because teenage brains are still developing, prolonged use may result in a permanent decrease in IQ, lower grades, skipping school or dropping out.  Adolescents who are addicted to marijuana often lack motivation, energy and lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Since marijuana has been legalized in Washington State, teens get the impression that it’s okay to use it. There are many myths about marijuana like;

Marijuana is not addictive.

False, the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in marijuana now is triple what it was in the 1980’s. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says that adolescent marijuana users are more likely than adults to develop dependency.


Eating marijuana brownies is better for you than smoking it.

False, you aren’t damaging your lungs with smoke, however marijuana in foods has a delayed reaction in your system, so you can easily overdose.

Smoking marijuana is medicinal.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration report that smoking marijuana has no medical benefit and is in fact, harmful to your health.  Smoking 3 cannabis joints is equal to smoking a whole pack of cigarettes in terms of toxic chemicals in your lungs.

Marijuana helps people with ADHD.

False, and it may increase anxiety, paranoia, depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health issues.  Studies indicate a link between heavy use of cannabis and schizophrenia.

Marijuana doesn’t affect my driving.

Those driving within 3 hours of using marijuana are twice as likely to cause an accident.

Marijuana is legal in Washington State now so I can use it whenever I want.

False, it is illegal for anyone under 21 years old.  It’s illegal to use it in public.  It’s a felony for adults to share it with people under 21.  It’s illegal to drive under the influence.  It’s a felony to be in possession of over 40 grams of marijuana.  And it is still illegal under Federal law.

Find out more about how to talk with your teens about marijuana use.   Read this helpful booklet from Seattle Children’s Hospital, “Now that marijuana is legal in Washington…”



Maribeth Crandell has a green thumb. Most of the rest of her is "green", as well. She's worked in city, state and national parks as a naturalist, educator and guide, on ships and on shore from the Columbia River to Southeast Alaska. She offers presentations for 6 year olds to seniors. She publishes articles, sings songs, plays the banjo and hikes trails. In fact, in 2006 she hiked the 2,000 mile long Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. She's been an educator for many organizations on Whidbey Island and for 5 years worked as the Environmental Educator for the City of Oak Harbor. She's been a consistent voice on Whidbey Island leading the way toward sustainability. Because Maribeth has a green thumb, along with the rest of her.

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