I know that there is a huge disagreement about whether marijuana is harmful or not, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse presents a pretty scary picture, which I thought I should share with parents of teens.
Addiction is a disease that usually begins in adolescence. Because the brains of teens are not completely developed, particularly the ares of the brain involved in judgment and decision making, teens are particularly vulnerable to risky behavior, including drug use.
Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used by teens, and according to the Monitoring the Future Survey (2006) 12% of 8th graders, 25% of 10th graders, and 32% of 12th graders report using marijuana in the last year. The good news is that 68% of 12th graders report not having used marijuana in the last year, but marijuana is obviously pretty available.
Although marijuana is sometimes perceived as less risky than other drugs, research suggests that:
Teens who smoke marijuana regularly face some of the same respiratory problems as people who smoke tobacco.
Marijuana use affects memory, learning, judgment, coordinator and balance.
Chronic marijuana users have lower income, get less education, and have more work-related problems than do nonusers.
Chronic marijuana users report less overall satisfaction with their lives and a negative effect of their use on family and social life, as well as on their mental and physical health.