Marijuana is NOT Safe for Youth

Tell Your Kids about the Cannabis, Psychosis, Suicide Link!

by Jane Anderson, MD and Michelle Cretella, MD, Executive Director

According to the Monitoring the Future 2019 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 35.7% of senior high school students surveyed admitted using marijuana in the previous year and over 6% of them were daily users. In addition, teens can vape marijuana as one of the liquid ingredients in electronic cigarettes. Among the 12th graders surveyed, 14% had vaped marijuana in the previous month and 3.5% did so daily. The legalization of marijuana for adult use has contributed to the dangerous myth among youth that marijuana is harmless, when in fact, the risks are really quite grave - particularly in regard to adolescent mental health. 

In the 1970s, marijuana contained only 1 – 2% concentrations of THC (the ingredient responsible for producing a high). Today cannabis products are far more potent. Formulations of 6% are common with strengths of 70 – 100% also available. A recent study of all marijuana research through February 2019 concluded that  the risk for developing serious mental illness including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and suicidality from cannabis is higher with younger age at onset of use, greater frequency of use and higher potency products. For example, marijuana use is associated with a 7-fold increased risk of depression and a 5-fold increased risk of suicidal thinking, and users are 50% more likely to develop schizophrenia as compared to non-users. But the consequences do not end there. 


  • 25-50 percent of daily marijuana users become addicted

  • Marijuana has all the same toxins as cigarettes and tobacco products

  • Marijuana has higher levels of cancer-causing agents than cigarettes

  • Marijuana causes the same lung and heart diseases as tobacco

  • Marijuana impairs consciousness, memory, concentration & reflexes

  • Marijuana increases school failure, car accidents and sexual assault

  • Marijuana use by teens permanently impairs memory capacity and lowers IQ

  • Marijuana often leads to the use of -- and addiction to -- harder drugs


Studies find that adolescents are much less likely to use marijuana if their parents state their disapproval.

Children look to their parents for guidance in making decisions. Therefore, parents must not only discuss these serious health risks often, but also be role models, and not use marijuana or other illicit drugs themselves. 


NEW: Marijuana and Mental Illness
ACPeds Position Statement
An elevated risk for mental illness is a grave concern to pediatricians since adolescents are the most vulnerable due to the rapid brain development that occurs during this stage of life.  
Marijuana Use: Detrimental to Youth
ACPeds Position Statement
As public perception of marijuana’s safety has grown, the result has been that limited legalization has led to greater availability of marijuana to youth.
Marijuana is Harmful to Youth
ACPeds Handout
Marijuana is addicting, has adverse effects upon the adolescent brain, is a risk for both cardio-respiratory disease and testicular cancer, and is associated with both psychiatric illness and negative social outcomes.

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