Not Just A Plant was created by Safe Communities Regional Coalition of Hunterdon and Somerset, Prevention Resources, Inc. to educate our community on the most recent scientific data regarding marijuana use, and how marijuana use impacts various sectors of our society. We are working to provide information to youth, parents, business owners, local legislators, school faculty members, and the community at large with the goal of helping our community make informed decisions about marijuana.
May 13, 2021 - What Parents Need to Know About Cannabis
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- Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States.
- In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults reported marijuana use in the past year.
- Over the past few decades, THC potency in the marijuana flower has continued to increase. The increase between 1995 and 2015 was 212%, and has continued to increase since.
- Every day, 3287 teens use marijuana for the first time.
- Teenage marijuana use is at its highest level in 30 years. In 2019, 6.6% of 8th graders, 18.4% of 10th graders, and 22.3% of 12th graders reported past month marijuana use.
- Approximately 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using younger than 18, that number rises to 1 in 6
- Today’s marijuana is extremely potent
- In the 1960’s, the average amount of THC in the marijuana plant was 1-2%. Today, it averages at around 15%, and can be as high as nearly 30%.
Figure 1 https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana/marijuana-potency
- Such high amounts of THC greatly increase the chances of suffering from the developmental, physical, and psychological risks which can result from marijuana use, including a heightened risk of addiction.
- Users who use high potency products are more likely to use the drug at least once a week, twice as likely to have used illicit drugs within the past 12 months, and more than three times as likely to be tobacco smokers.
Figure 2 https://www.justthinktwice.gov/facts-about-marijuana-concentrates
- THC concentrates are a highly potent marijuana extract.
- They are created by extracting THC from the cannabis plant. There are many different types of concentrates, including wax, hash, and oils. Methods used to make concentrates include various chemical processes, extreme heat, and alcohol distillation.
- Concentrates are much more potent than the cannabis flower. Marijuana concentrates can contain a THC potency of up to 90%.
Figure 3 Stock Photo
- Edibles are marijuana food products. They are made by infusing marijuana concentrates with food ingredients.
- It is difficult to properly gauge how much THC is being consumed when using an edible as there is no reliable way to measure the exact potency of THC in food products.
- They pose a much higher risk for accidental overdose, as they take a long time to metabolize in the body. Which creates a delay between the time of consumption and the time effects are felt. This produces a false belief that the product is not working. When this happens, users tend to consume more of the product, and unintentionally ingest toxic amounts of THC.
- They also pose a risk for accidental ingestion, as they are often unmarked, and made as candy or baked goods. Packaged products are sometimes nearly identical to popular candy and other children’s products, putting young children at an especially high risk.
Figure 4Marijuana edibles may appear in packaging that resemble children-oriented products
- In 2014, 43.6% of drivers in Colorado and Washington reported driving under the influence of marijuana at least once in the past year. Of those surveyed, 23.9 % reported driving within one hour of using marijuana at least five times in the past month.
- Compared to neighboring states that have not legalized marijuana for recreational use, marijuana related motor-vehicle crashes in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado has increased by 6%.
- In 2018, drivers who tested positive for marijuana use were implicated in 18.2% of traffic fatalities in the state of Colorado, marking a 109% increase since statewide legalization was implemented.
- Since being legalized for recreational use in 2012, past month marijuana use in Colorado residents ages 12 and older has increased by 58%, and is now 78% higher than the national average.
- As states continue to legalize marijuana, perception of harm decreases, and teen marijuana use increases.
Figure 6 Source: National Institutes of Health
- In states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, the prevalence of Cannabis use disorder in youth 12 to 17 years-old increased by 25%.
- In Colorado, from 2013 to 2017, the yearly number of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 101%.
- In 2017, Colorado experienced 21,769 emergency department visits and 16,614 hospitalizations connected to marijuana. This is a 300% increase since pre-legalization.
- The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center reported 266 marijuana-related exposures in 2018 overall with 147 of those affecting youth ages 0-18 years-old.
Figure 7 Source: https://rmhidta.org/files/D2DF/FINAL-Volume6.pdf
- Marijuana tax revenue represented less than 1% of Colorado’s FY 2018 budget. It was allocated towards health care, health education, substance abuse prevention, drug abuse treatment programs, and law enforcement.
- In Colorado, for every dollar gained in tax revenue, approximately $4.50 is spent to mitigate the effects of legalization.
- Marijuana smoke has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
- Marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways, leading to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis. A user can also develop chronic bronchitis.
- Marijuana can harm lung tissue and can cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels.
Figure 8 Source: CDC.gov
- The use of “vape-pens” to inhale cannabis concentrates or e-liquids may have similar respiratory health effects as e-cigarette use.
- Vitamin E acetate, an additive found in some THC e-liquids and vaping products, is strongly linked to the EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury) outbreak.
- After the EVALI outbreak, the CDC recommends people not use any THC vaping products, even if purchased from a dispensary.
- People who vape are in the “high risk bracket” of underlying conditions for COVID-19
Figure 9 Source NIDA www.drugabuse.gov
- Marijuana affects specific sites in the brain called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors send messages to different nerve cells throughout the nervous system.
- Marijuana directly affects regions of the brain responsible for attention, memory, learning, coordination, emotion, and reaction time.
- Marijuana can affect a user’s decision making, concentration, and memory for days after the drug was used, especially in those who use marijuana regularly.
- The effect of cannabis temporarily prevents the brain from developing new memories and learning new things. Heavy cannabis users are at risk for developing false memories, even if those users had gone without using the drug for over a month.
Figure 10 Source: https://kushca.com/more-pregnant-women-using-marijuana-study-finds/
- Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug by pregnant women.
- Marijuana use among pregnant women rose by 69% between 2009 and 2016.
- The Colorado Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System reported that maternal marijuana use was associated with a 50% increased risk of low birth weight regardless of maternal age, race, ethnicity, education, and tobacco use.
- Consistent with guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the CDC advises against using marijuana during pregnancy
- Marijuana can negatively affect a user’s mental health. The drug can produce psychiatric effects that closely resemble symptoms of schizophrenia, regardless of whether the user uses the drug frequently or occasionally.
- Several studies have linked marijuana use to an increased risk for developing psychiatric disorders, including psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.
- Studies show a positive correlation between THC potency and rates of mental health disorders.
Figure 11 Stock Photo
- Marijuana use worsens symptoms in users who have mental illness, especially those struggling with anxiety or depression.
- Recent research suggests that smoking high-potency marijuana daily can increase the likelihood of developing psychosis by nearly five times, compared to those who have never used marijuana.
- Marijuana use can trigger schizophrenia in those who are genetically predisposed to the condition.
- Cannabis use disorder is a mental health condition defined by feeling a physical or intense psychological dependence on marijuana, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when ceasing use.
- Withdrawal symptoms can include: mood changes, sleep issues, cravings and irritability.
- Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may be experiencing some degree of cannabis use disorder.
- 1 in 10 marijuana users will develop and addiction to the drug. For users who begin using before the age of 18, the likelihood rises to a 1 in 6 chance.
- After alcohol, marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug by adolescents.
- After remaining mostly stable for many years, daily use of marijuana went up significantly since 2018 among eighth and 10th graders–now at 1.3% and 4.8% respectively. Teen rates for vaping marijuana have more than doubled in the last 2 years.
Past year vaping of marijuana among teens:
- 20.8% of 12th graders
- 19.4% of 10th graders
- 7.0% of 8th graders
Figure 12 https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/monitoring-future-2019-survey-results-overall-findings
- Teen perception of harm has decreased. This is especially true in states that have legalized it for recreational use.
- Decreased perception of harm may increase the likelihood that a teen or young adult will use marijuana.
- Youth will have greater opportunities for access if marijuana is legalized for recreational use. As it is currently with alcohol, it will be accessible in the home, and older friends (ages 21 and up) could legally purchase for the purpose of illegally providing it those who are not of age.