As parents and/or concerned community members, are you confused about various messages you are seeing and hearing regarding marijuana? Read on, and be ready to address the following myths that youth and others hear and may believe.
Myth: Marijuana is not addictive.
Fact: Some people think that marijuana is not truly “addictive” or that people can’t become “hooked” on the drug, but research shows that about 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.
Some of the signs that someone might be addicted include:
- Unsuccessful efforts to quit using marijuana.
- Giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana.
- Using marijuana even when it is known that it causes problems fulfilling everyday jobs at home, school or work.
People who are addicted to marijuana may also be at a higher risk of other negative consequences of using the drug, such as problems with attention, memory, and learning.
Researchers do not yet know the full extent of the consequences when the body and brain (especially the developing brain) are exposed to high concentrations of THC or how recent increases in potency affect the risk of someone becoming addicted.
Myth: Marijuana is SAFE to use and drive.
Fact: Marijuana compromises judgment and affects many other skills required for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. Marijuana use makes it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. Marijuana is the most commonly identified illicit drug in fatal accidents (~14 percent of drivers).
Myth: Marijuana use is harmless.
Fact: Marijuana harms more than just those who use the drug. It also hurts the babies born to users. It hurts teen users who betray the trust of their parents, and it hurts the parents who are confused and dismayed by their kids’ use. Marijuana also hurts communities when users commit crimes or cause crashes on the highway. A roadside study of reckless drivers in Tennessee found that 33 percent of all subjects who were not under the influence of alcohol, and who were tested for drugs at the scene of their arrest, tested positive for marijuana. In a 2003 Canadian study, one in five students admitted to driving within an hour of using marijuana. Marijuana also harms society by causing lost productivity in business, limiting educational attainment, and by contributing to illnesses and injuries that put further strain on the health care system.
Myth: My child or children are not exposed to marijuana.
Fact: It’s an unfortunate fact: If kids want marijuana, they can find it. More than half (55%) of youths age 12 to 17 responding to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2002 reported that marijuana would be easy to obtain. The survey indicated that most marijuana users got the drug from a friend, and that almost 9% of youths who bought marijuana did so inside a school building. Moreover, nearly 17% of the young people surveyed said they had been approached by someone selling drugs in the past month. The 2015 Risk and Protective Survey completed by local Allegany County seniors stated that 21% had smoked marijuana at least once in the past 30 days.
Kids are also exposed to a relentless barrage of marijuana messages in the popular culture-in music they listen to, the movies they watch, and the magazines they read. And then there’s the Internet, a crowded landscape of pro-marijuana and drug legalization Web sites. More often than not, the culture glamorizes or trivializes marijuana use and fails to show the serious harm it can cause. The easy availability of marijuana has been a concern for years. Since the Monitoring the Future Survey began in 1975, most high school seniors said they could obtain the drug fairly easily or very easily. Fortunately, non-use remains the norm, but an alarming number of young people have at least experimented with marijuana. The 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey found that 42% of all high school students nationwide had used marijuana at some time in their lives.