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Should I Let My Child Smoke Weed?

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“It’s not a big deal, Mom.” So says my non-weed-smoking teenager about marijuana. (At least I hope he doesn’t use marijuana, but I’ve learned not to think my children would never do something I don’t want them to do.)

As more states legalize recreational cannabis and more people use CBD products, the stigma around marijuana is fading. So you might be wondering: Should I let my child smoke weed? Before you decide, here are 4 things you need to know about marijuana.

Weed affects the brain.

Most women wouldn’t use marijuana while pregnant because they know it can harm a baby’s developing body and brain. The same applies to teenage bodies and brains. The Duke professors who wrote the book Buzzed say that weed negatively affects learning and memory and may increase “psychological difficulties” later in life. Sadly, there is a “troubling association” between schizophrenia and early use of cannabinoids. The authors of Buzzed say kids who use pot a lot as teens are more likely to be hurt by it in the long run. It can even damage the brain system that controls vision.

Academics take a hit.

If you can’t form new memories and you can’t store new memories, you can’t optimize your learning. Studies show that the most common cognitive effect of marijuana is interference with memory processing. And these cognitive effects linger. The authors of Buzzed wrote that weed may remain in the body for a full week and may continue to affect mental and physical functions subtly. And what about permanent cognitive damage? Some studies show that there is a significant cognitive decline in kids who start using marijuana before age 18.

Age matters.

The red flags are everywhere regarding early use of weed: a decline in higher-order cognitive function and verbal IQ, possible brain damage, and development of psychological disorders later in life. And consider that according to a study released by the National Institutes of Health, the THC in cannabis accumulates “in significant concentrations” in the liver, spleen, and testes—which, among other things, can lead to a suppressed immune system. And, the longer your child uses weed, the greater the chance for lung damage, DNA damage, and decreased fertility.

(This is an excellent article on the increased risk of stroke, heart attacks, and inflammation and clots of the arteries of young adults who use marijuana.)

Edibles aren’t harmless.

It takes longer to feel the effects of edible marijuana, and that’s part of the problem. The effects of smoking weed are felt almost immediately, but it takes 30 minutes to feel the effects of edibles. A teen can eat a cannabis brownie and feel nothing, so he or she eats more. The result is that higher levels of THC enter the system, and stay there for up to 12 hours. And research out of the University of Colorado found that since it’s tough to gauge the potency of edibles, overdoing it is more likely, with possible consequences of heart palpitations, panic attacks, and a visit to the ER.

So, what’s your answer now? Should I let my child smoke weed? The bottom line is that marijuana is not harmless and that ramifications to a child’s developing brain and body can be significant.

How do you feel about letting your teenager smoke marijuana? 

ASK YOUR CHILD...

Why do you think kids and teenagers do things that aren’t good for them?

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