Marijuana is currently the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. 78 million Americans have admitted using the drug during their lifetime, while 55 million have used with in the last month, more than active tobacco users who claim 36 million users. Millennials have increasingly become the largest group of users. Half of marijuana users are parents. This increases social acceptability, and directly influences the younger generations to become pot users.
“ What one generation tolerates, the next will embrace”.
I will expand upon this famous quote from the 1700’s by adding the next generation will down right celebrate. According to a paper by CATO Institute, legalization of marijuana may be occurring as marijuana use increases. As marijuana becomes more commonplace and less stigmatized in society, legislators become less opposed to legalization. As written by the authors of the paper, “ In essence, rising marijuana use may not be a consequence of legalization, but a cause of it.”
Marijuana use with adults has doubled over the last 15 years. Marijuana is legal in 8 states, including the District of Columbia. All states reported an increase in marijuana use before legalization. According to the National Drug Institute, kids are not substituting binge drinking for marijuana, but instead are doing both. Marijuana use for 8th and 10th graders is on the rise. As a result, younger kids are becoming first time users in legalized states. Teens who drink alcohol are more likely to use marijuana in legalized states. Colorado hospitals report four times as many marijuana intoxicated teenagers in the ER following legalization. More than half of those teens also tested positive for other drugs. These statistics point to binge use. Whether marijuana is the gateway drug or an added on drug, it is being used more by the kids who binge on any substance.
We need to be deeply concerned with the effects marijuana has a child’s developing brain. It effects learning and memory, loss of IQ, can cause anxiety, and promote hallucinations and psychosis. Long-term use can also cause mental health problems and frequent respiratory infections.
Until Americans decide to make marijuana socially non acceptable, the drug will continue to infect our young generations to come ( See blog History of Drug Abuse).