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Legalizing Marijuana: The Effect on Teens

The great debate on marijuana legalization continues on, with many states passing laws to the affirmative. Parents of teens, however, are concerned about such a move and are wondering just how to talk to their children about the dangers of smoking pot. Mixed Messages and Teen Rationalization Most parents are concerned that legalizing marijuana will send mixed messages to kids. This means that if you’re of legal age, then you would be able to smoke pot. In the immature rationalization of teens, that relates to: “it’s legal, so it must be safe.” It’s understandable that teens can come to this conclusion, however errant it may be. Teens do not possess the critical thinking skills of someone 10 or 15 years older, and often don’t feel it is necessary to think any further than their initial assessment. Talking to Teens About Marijuana It’s important for teens to understand that recreational use of marijuana can ultimately lead to marijuana addiction or experimentation with harder drugs. And if a state says it’s legal for adults, it can become more difficult to get teens to listen to any arguments to the contrary. Parents can easily combat the argument of legalities equating to safety in a way that is caring and educational. Cigarettes are legal, yet are proven to cause cancer, emphysema, and other terrible conditions. Alcohol is legal, yet thousands of people are hurt or killed while under its influence. Worse still is that millions of people struggle with addiction to these perfectly legal substances. If a teen begins to argue that marijuana has health benefits, there’s an answer for this, too. You can explain that prescription drugs have definite health benefits, are legal with the required authorization, but still can be incredibly dangerous if abused. You can further explain that any proven benefits of marijuana use have been in conjunction with medical trials for very serious conditions and not for recreational use. Teen Marijuana Use and Its Link to Drug Addiction Teens who experiment with alcohol, drugs, and marijuana are 35 percent more likely to develop a substance addiction later in life than people who try the substances for the first time as an adult. The brain is still developing through the teenage years and is more susceptible to the chemical changes that occur with drug use. At The Ranch PA, we help people struggling with all forms of chemical dependency whether they are teens or adults. Find your path to recovery by contacting us today. (Photo via)

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