Archive for category Marijuana Use and Abuse
Here’s a bit of good and bad news: today’s teenagers use alcohol and cigarettes less, but are found to use marijuana increasingly.
This is according to a study conducted by Penn State’s The Methodology Center. Although the recent findings point to a successful campaign against tobacco, this may have caused the interest of adolescents to shift towards marijuana. “Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working — fewer teens are smoking cigarettes… However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes,” said study co-author Stephanie Lanza in a news release.
The study looked into data from the project entitled Monitoring the Future, where close to 600,000 high school seniors from 1976 to 2013 were asked to participate in a survey. The questions were targeted towards checking the students’ use of three substances: alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.
Results showed a significant decrease in use of cigarettes, most notably in white adolescents. Marijuana, on the other hand, was used more as years went by, especially in black teenagers. Meanwhile, alcohol consumption by teenagers has steadily dipped over the years, with white teens drinking more than their black counterparts. A correlation was also noticed between marijuana and cigarette use, citing that those who smoked cigarettes were more likely to use marijuana than teenagers who did not use tobacco products.
Details of the study were published July 20 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
As more states welcome medical marijuana use, a recent study discovers that this rise in accepting cannabis for medical treatment does not lead to more teens getting high.
A group of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York investigated more than 1 million records of teenagers spanning 24 years worth of data from a nationwide study to determine a potential link between legalization of medical marijuana in U.S. states and teenage marijuana use. “Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalises medical marijuana,” said study lead author Dr. Deborah Hasin via a news release. Surprisingly, states that did not legalize medical marijuana were found to have higher rates of teen marijuana use. “Rather, up to now, in the states that passed medical marijuana laws, adolescent marijuana use was already higher than in other states,” Hasin added.
Dr. Kevin Hill from Massachusetts’ McLean Hospital alcohol and drug abuse division wrote a commentary accompanying the study, which was published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal. “The growing body of research that includes this study suggests that medical marijuana laws do not increase adolescent use, and future decisions that states make about whether or not to enact medical marijuana laws should be at least partly guided by this evidence,” Hill said.
The hippocampus is the human brain’s storage for long-term memory, and was recently found by scientists to be one of the casualties of heavy cannabis use by teenagers.
This discovery was based on a study by researchers from the Northwestern Medicine who conducted memory tests on young adults who took marijuana for about three years starting at age 16 to 17. Results of the study showed that these individuals fared 18 percent worse in tests that assessed long-term memory, compared to those who did not engage in marijuana abuse.
Study senior author Dr. John Csernansky, who works at the university’s Feinberg School of Medicine as head of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said that marijuana use may lead people to serious repercussions not only to memory but also to relationships. “The memory processes that appear to be affected by cannabis are ones that we use every day to solve common problems and to sustain our relationships with friends and family,” Csernansky said in a news statement.
The study discovered that part of the reason behind the disruption of memory storage is the abnormal shape of the hippocampus in people engaging in chronic marijuana use. This was confirmed by lead study author Matthew Smith, based on not only the current study but also an earlier one. “Both our recent studies link the chronic use of marijuana during adolescence to these differences in the shape of brain regions that are critical to memory and that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it,” Smith said. Although further studies are needed to prove a direct causality of marijuana to create brain changes, Smith added that the team’s study is already proof that “marijuana may be the cause.”
Pregnancy is a highly sensitive condition for many women, but a large proportion of teenage pregnancies are jeopardized by use of alcohol and drugs.
This was reported by a recent study by The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, in which Christopher Salas-Wright and a team of researchers investigated a possible link between teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. The research team discovered that 59 percent of pregnant teenagers have used drugs or alcohol for the past 12 months. It also revealed that 34 percent of pregnant adolescents aged 12 to 14 used controlled substances in the past 30 days prior to the survey. Details of the study were published in the Addictive Behaviors’ Spring 2015 edition.
The study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2012, specifically on teenage girls 12 to 17 years old. Out of the representative sample of 97,850 female adolescents, 810 of them declared that they were with child. Questions from the survey included use of illicit substances such as cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamines, and alcohol.
According to a news release by UT, alcohol tops the most commonly used substances by pregnant teens, pegged at 16 percent. Cannabis and other illicit substances follow suit at 14 and 5 percent, respectively.
Salas-Wright, an assistant professor at UT, said that their study was the largest research on teenage pregnancy and substance use. The team emphasized the importance of information to prevent substance use by pregnant teens. “Mothers’ substance use during pregnancy can have important consequences for the health and development of newborn babies. Despite efforts to prevent substance use among pregnant teens, our findings suggest that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Salas-Wright.
Although the state of Colorado allows medical marijuana distribution to patients with prescriptions, a recent incident highlights some restrictions to the bill.
Officials at Everitt Middle School confiscated medical marijuana from a teenager diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Fourteen-year-old student Jack Linn was allowed prescription of medical marijuana (in the form of cannabis oil) for his condition, but bringing it in school premises is not allowed by the school officials.
The school’s administration staff based its decision on federal law, which prohibits marijuana to be brought to schools and educational institutions. The confiscation occurred when Linn was found being treated with marijuana oil by his personal nurse on school grounds.
Stacey Linn, the teen’s mother, was furious with the incident, but blames the incorrect policy rather than the school implementing such federal restriction. “It’s outrageous. I’m not going to blame the school because they’re following a policy. I blame the policy. It scares me to death that medicine can be taken away from him. Medicine that saves his life,” Linn’s mother said in a news release.
The principal of Everitt Middle School said they will abide with federal law to avoid risk of losing financial support from the federal government.
Marijuana-infused candy definitely takes the cake as far as “trick or treat” is concerned.
Although the state of Colorado has pretty much embraced marijuana in its culture, the Denver Police Department recently issued a warning to parents about marijuana edibles disguised as candies for Halloween trick or treat. The police department released a video warning about Haloween marijuana edibles via YouTube:
Responsible owners of marijuana dispensaries support this campaign by Denver Police, stating the near-impossibility of identifying a marijuana candy from a regular sweet treat. “Once that candy dries, there’s really no way to tell the difference between candy that’s infused and candy that’s not infused,” according to marijuana retail owner Patrick Johnson as published in Time. “There’s really no way for a child or a parent or anybody, even an expert in the field, to tell you whether or not a product is infused or not.”