Medical marijuana has been a phrase thrown around the news for months now with no real explanation about how it can affect your family. We have sifted through the research for you, so you can be prepared to talk to your loved ones about medical marijuana.

What is being legalized?

The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act or Act 16 of 2016 refers to “medical marijuana” as marijuana obtained for certified medical use by a PA resident with a serious medical condition in the form of a pill, oil, topical gel/cream/ ointment, vaporization/nebulization, tincture, or liquid. Smoked cannabis is not included in the law.

Does medical marijuana pose a risk to young people?

The use of any drug, be it medical or recreational in nature, involves risk. Marijuana is not automatically safe because it is legal in medical form, but as pro-cannabis viewpoints gain popularity, the line between safe and risky becomes blurred.

Risks associated with cannabis use include impaired driving or fatal crashes, addiction, schizophrenia or psychosis, and cognitive impairment or lower IQ.

Are there warning signs to look for?

With substance abuse comes a variety of different signs and symptoms to keep on your radar. Signs of cannabis use are poor memory, bloodshot eyes, poor judgment, paranoid thinking, decreased coordination, difficulty concentrating, erratic behavior/emotions, and lack of motivation. While this is not a comprehensive list, any sudden change in health, appearance, and/or behavior could indicate substance abuse.

Is there a connection between youth marijuana use and other substance use/addiction?

According to DrugAbuse.gov, long-term studies of high school students’ patterns of drug use show that most young people who use other drugs have first tried marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco. Researchers are currently looking into whether exposure to marijuana can change the brain and make a person more likely to get addicted to marijuana or other drugs, such as alcohol, opioids, or cocaine.

Marijuana can be addictive. Those who begin using before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop problem use. We know, however, that talking to kids about drug use is crucial in delaying or preventing use. Use these tips to engage with your loved ones.

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