Dangers of Marijuana to Mental Health of Children

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Quentin Van Meter, MD, FCP, President


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American College of Pediatricians releases analysis on dangers of marijuana to mental health of children

June 23, 2020 (Gainesville, FLORIDA) – The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) today released a position statement on the adverse mental health effects marijuana has on America’s youth. A multitude of scientific studies point to marijuana as a risk factor for mental illness, particularly depression, schizophrenia and suicidality. 

Growing numbers of adolescents believe cannabis is harmless. 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. Teens also vape marijuana as one of the liquid ingredients of electronic cigarettes. Among the 12th graders surveyed, 14% had vaped marijuana in the previous month and 3.5% did so daily. 

This scientific review summarizes many of the studies implicating marijuana as a causal factor for the development of depression, suicidality and schizophrenia in adults and children. This elevated risk for mental illness is a grave concern to pediatricians since adolescents appear to be the most vulnerable due to the rapid brain development that occurs during this stage of life. 

“Children are our most precious resource and the future of our nation,” said Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians. “Children are also more likely to become addicted to marijuana and suffer mental harm. With significant evidence demonstrating the link between marijuana use and mental illness, it is imperative that American policymakers restrict the availability of marijuana, prohibiting its use except in medical cases. It is our ethical duty to prioritize the needs of children -- our future. “

Read the entire position statement here.

About the American College of Pediatricians

The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. It was founded by a group of concerned physicians who saw the need for a pediatric organization that would not be influenced by the politically driven pronouncements of the day. The mission of the ACPeds is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being. The ACPeds is committed to fulfilling its mission by producing sound policy, based upon the best available research, to assist parents and to influence society in the endeavor of childrearing. 

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