The Legalization of Marijuana: Buyers Beware


The Legalization of Marijuana: Buyers Beware
What other states can learn while Colorado tries to educate kids on the effects of marijuana.

Yes, all eyes are on Colorado, because it has become the first state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana use. So, Colorado gets to be the guinea pig state or the "lab rats." Other states get to watch what the impact of this legalization will have on our youth, education outcomes, automobile accidents, deaths, street dealing, the economy, rehab admissions, and the list could go on and on. Or shall I say the variables — because this is just one big experiment. There are marijuana advocates that are fighting against educational efforts aimed toward the children of this state. That concerns me — greatly. 

Professionals involved in getting information out to children, mainly ages 12-15, just want to be sure that these kids are armed with facts as it pertains to marijuana use. Just as advocates wanted to get the word out about alcohol as it pertained to drinking and driving. Those concerned with the effects marijuana has on a child's development, or ability to drive a car while high, want to also get the facts out. 


But in some areas this appears to be controversial which confuses me. I am confused as to why anyone would not want children to know the impact that marijuana has on their developing brain, academic achievement, compromised ability to drive, potential exacerbation of mental illness and its addictive potential. I suppose some of the opposition comes from some conflicting research that can be found — but really there is a very little conflicting research in the grand scheme of things. Anyone can find some research to support nearly anything — on a weekly basis we hear about the positive or negative effects of such things as caffeine, red wine, hours of sleep, organic foods and any other popular subject.

All I know is that when it comes to the wellbeing of our children, I would rather be conservative. I would rather trust studies from the National Institutes of Mental Health, major universities, and maybe most importantly, my first hand clinical experiences with teens and their families. Plain and simple, common sense says to me that kids using mind altering drugs like marijuana which has numerous ways to be consumed (each that are responded to differently) and unregulated amounts of THC is not a good thing for their developing brains and bodies. And just the way there are rare exceptions in life such as the grandparent who smoked a pack of cigarettes their whole life but are "just fine," I am not willing to bank on that for our kids.

There are a myriad of considerations, factors, variables and unknowns that we are muddling our way through and it will be years to come before we have the data to show the effects it has had. I am not willing to wait for 10 years of research to prove what experience, current data and common sense already tells me. So to the 49 other states who are watching, waiting or getting ready to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes — buyer beware. 

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Sheryl Ziegler


Sheryl G. Ziegler, Psy.D., L.P.C., R.P.T

Doctor of Psychology

Location: Denver, CO
Credentials: LPC, PsyD
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