If you care about teenagers and their mental health, the rush to legalize marijuana in America is a great example of a really, really bad idea.
THC is the active ingredient in pot. According to the Washington Post, some of today’s marijuana products average a 68% concentration of THC, stratospherically higher than what my college classmates smoked back in the day. This is not your father’s dope. One dad whose son wound up in an expensive rehab program calls it “nuclear-strength weed.”
Science confirms that earlier and more frequent use of this high-octane cannabis does put adolescents in greater jeopardy of a number of pathologies, including substance abuse disorders and mental health issues. It has a clearly established and negative impact on school performance.
And the particularly noteworthy problem is that pot has a dramatic effect on developing teen brains. The part of the brain controlling problem-solving, memory, language, and judgment does not fully develop until age 25, and marijuana messes with that part of the growing brain. As a result, we are seeing an epidemic of dope-induced psychosis, addiction, suicide, depression, and anxiety.
Weaponized pot meets failed education
Medical professionals at the Children’s Hospital Colorado facilities in Denver are seeing huge jumps in teens needing treatment for cyclic vomiting, paranoia, and psychosis. Psychiatrist Libby Stuyt says, “Horrible things are happening to kids.”
Matt Jenkins, a special education programs coordinator for a Colorado school district, got mobilized on this issue because he was running into students who were “going into the stratosphere” on the weaponized pot and “getting beyond way too high.”
A major part of the problem is an utter failure in our education system. In Washington, 20 percent of 8th-graders and nearly 50% of seniors falsely believe there is little to no risk involved in regular marijuana use. Many of them, again falsely, believe that pot is actually less risky than cigarettes.
Meanwhile, dispensaries are opening close to high schools in Seattle. And there are more pot shops in Denver than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.
Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who focuses her research on the effect of marijuana on the brain, says, “The brain is abnormally vulnerable during adolescence. Policy seems to have outpaced science, and in the best of all possible worlds, science would allow us to set policy.”
Why do states like Colorado and Washington turn a blind eye to a business that promotes a product that rots kids’ brains? Money. Colorado’s pot industry racked up $1.54 billion in sales in 2018, with $266 million of that dumped into state coffers. Washington state cleared $358 million in taxes off $978 million in retail sales in the same year.
Some Christians argue that because the Bible does not condemn drinking, only drunkenness, it therefore by corollary doesn’t condemn smoking pot, it only condemns getting high. This is silly since the whole point of lighting up is to get high. The only reason people do it is to get high. You can’t smoke even a little bit without getting high. When the Bible instructs us, “Do not get drunk with wine, but instead be filled with the Holy Spirit,” one implication and application is to abstain from the demon weed.
40-year-old author, speaker and drug-treatment consultant named Ben Cort said, "The bottom line is, weed ain't for kids in any form – eating it, vaping it, smoking it. It's not okay."
"I hope we don't lose a generation of people before we become clear we need to protect our kids' brains," says Leslie Walker-Harding, who is an adolescent medicine specialist, and chairs the pediatrics department at Seattle Children's Hospital.