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After legalisation, Canadian teens need to understand the danger of marijuana use

Marijuana legalisation is great for adults, but young people need to be aware of its harmful effects on young minds.

On October 17th, marijuana was legalised in Canada. But even before it was legalised Canada already had the highest rate of cannabis use in the developed world. Cannabis use is common especially among youth. A 2013 study suggests that in Canada, 28 percent of 11-15 year olds have tried marijuana, whereas in the United States, where only 23 percent of 11-15 year olds have tried pot. This leads to concerns about what will happen now that pot is legal.

Although some people might think that because weed is now legal more youth will smoke it, a study in Oregon suggests that the legalisation of marijuana only affects youth that were already users of the drug. The number of youth marijuana users didn’t seem to increase after legalisation, but the frequency of use among people that already smoked pot appeared to rise. Although there was no noticeable increase in youth marijuana use in this study, no doubt people will still be concerned about the possibility.

A reason for this concern is because we know that marijuana can have stronger effects on young minds. Multiple studies show that consuming marijuana during development can cause adverse changes to the brain in the future. Tests done on rats exposed to THC before birth, right after birth and during adolescence show more struggle with specific learning and memory tasks later in life. Adult rats that when exposed to THC only showed short term effects. Scientists are assuming that the same results would show in humans.

Although I am concerned about youth use, legalisation does have benefits. One benefit to legalising weed is that it may cut off a lot of the profit going towards gangs. This is a positive development because the illegal market does not control the quality or content or their products and has no problem selling to kids. Legal drugs will be safer and better regulated.

In conclusion, marijuana is a serious drug that youth should not be dealing with. It’s your own choice whether you want to smoke or not, but young people need to understand how it can affect their brains and behaviour. I would recommend staying away from it. Still, as an adult, you should have the right to buy legal marijuana for recreational use.

Image Credit: Flickr / Cannabis Culture

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