As of January 1, 2020, individuals over the age of 21 in the state of Illinois will be able to legally purchase cannabis (marijuana) from licensed dispensaries. While the state has now permitted sale of non-medical or recreational marijuana, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know the health risks and consequences associated with this addictive drug.
“We know that long-term use of marijuana starting in adolescence is associated with cognitive deficits that impair learning and work efforts and may not resolve by adulthood, even when marijuana use is ceased,” said Maria H. Rahmandar, MD, Medical Director, Substance Use & Prevention Program (SUPP), The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine.
In addition, use of marijuana in pregnancy is associated with poor fetal growth, low birthweight and greater need for newborn intensive care for infants. Rahmandar shared, “Studies have shown that children exposed to marijuana in the womb are more likely to have problems with verbal reasoning, comprehension and short-term memory.”
A parent, guardian and/or caregiver can serve an integral role to prevent use of marijuana by children and adolescents. “Often marijuana is the first drug tried by young people, and it’s often believed to be non-addictive or harmless which is not true,” said Rahmandar. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) short- and long-term recreational use of marijuana in adolescents can be addictive and can cause:
Regular use of marijuana can alter an adolescent’s still growing and developing brain. Adults should take the following steps to help prevent a child or teen’s use of marijuana and/or other drugs:
If you think your child or teen is using drugs, seek help and share concerns with a professional, trusted healthcare provider.
The Substance Use and Prevention Program (SUPP) provides comprehensive and holistic care for patients and families. As a specialty program within The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, SUPP utilizes multidisciplinary team to address the complex needs of those experiencing substance use disorders. We provide that every adolescent that comes through our program with current and evidence-based care for addiction treatment and prevention.