Our cannabis business lawyers are constantly reading the news to stay on top of both the laws and the realities of marijuana in the states in which we practice. Much of the concern from states regarding marijuana legalization relates to the lasting impact marijuana use can have on teenagers. Recently, a Springfield, Arkansas Newspaper published a two part article discussing the consequences of smoking marijuana at a young age. The article is titled Facts are best tool to stop pot use. We agree with that message.
The author is the deputy director of a substance abuse program and he presents valid points regarding the dangers of teenagers’ smoking marijuana. He states that an increase in middle school marijuana use is usually due to easy access and a decrease in the perception that marijuana is harmful.
Many people argue that a teenager’s ability to abuse marijuana is reason enough to prohibit marijuana use completely, but that argument makes little sense. Teenagers will gain access to marijuana whether marijuana is legal or not. Time made an interesting point stating that, “The illegal status of marijuana may stop many kids from seeking help.” We believe that in the long run regulation will limit the black market and therefore decrease teen usage. Not to mention that we do not make alcohol or cigarettes illegal, but we do seek to limit teenage access to these things.
Marijuana use is becoming a normal part of conversation and that is a healthy thing. The Washington Post put it best, “Marijuana use has officially moved out of the basement and into the boardroom.” Just this last week a full page ad for Leafly, an app for information about different medicinal cannabis strains, was featured in the New York Times. No longer does one have an excuse to be in denial of the possible benefits of marijuana simply because of its Schedule 1 rating at the federal level. Users, parents, and students alike should be aware of the risks associated with marijuana use, but these facts are not enough to justify federal prohibition. We live in a country where people can choose for themselves.
We should and we do have laws blocking teenagers from accessing marijuana and few believe those laws should be expunged. Yet at the same time, those laws have had little impact on teen use. Let’s dissuade teen marijuana usage by using the facts, not by blocking legalization for adults.
UPDATE: Colorado Department of Public Health released survey results today showing that teen use of marijuana in Colorado has declined since legalization. Further proof that the way to reduce teen use is through education not jail time.