Doctors warn against teen pot use amid looser laws

Cody PriceMar 01, 2017

The doctors behind the report say parents should not use the drug around their children.

As marijuana use for recreational purposes is becoming legal in a growing number of USA states, pediatricians are warning about dangers of kids using the controversial drug.

Many parents use the drug and think it's OK for their kids, but "we would rather not mess around with the developing brain", Dr. Seth Ammerman said. It says emphasizing that message is important because most states have legalized medical use for adults, and many have decriminalized or legalized adults' recreational use. Parents should avoid using marijuana in front of their kids and should keep all marijuana products stored out of kids' sight, the academy says.

An influential doctors group is beefing up warnings about marijuana's potential harms for teens amid increasingly lax laws and attitudes on pot use.

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It further states that teenagers' brains are still developing, and marijuana can cause "abnormal and unhealthy changes" and put them at risk for addiction, depression and psychosis.

With about 20 percent of high school students using marijuana, experts said it's critical for parents and pediatricians to discuss the dangers with kids.

One in five Americans may now have legal access to marijuana but a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics says that doesn't mean they should use it.

Although there are now no initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for minors and marijuana is still a federally controlled substance, changes in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, may affect use among adolescents by decreasing the perceived risk of harm or through the marketing of legal marijuana, despite restrictions that prohibit marketing and advertising to this age group.

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With regards to the effects of medical marijuana on children and teens, solid research is still lacking.

Pediatricians say in addition to slower cognitive development, there is a greater risk for addiction when teens smoke pot.

And the growing range of marijuana products create new risks, the report says, including "accidental pot poisoning from an increasing array of edible marijuana products such as pot-infused sweets, baked goods and beverages that contain high amounts of THC yet are often indistinguishable from ordinary treats". However Ryan warned that today's marijuana is much more potent, and therefore potentially more risky.

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