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As the debate about legalizing marijuana continues across the country, questions have arisen about how legalization for medical reasons has impacted marijuana use among the younger population. While some organizations are asserting the rise in medical marijuana has had no effect on marijuana use among teens, there is evidence to the contrary. Since studies have also shown marijuana use at an earlier age can lead to impaired brain function and even a drop in intelligence, it is important to weigh all the facts when determining whether medical marijuana is a viable option in the U.S.

Teen Use in Marijuana States

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found a direct correlation between teens using pot and states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. According to this data, the number of teens using the substance increased by one-third in medical marijuana states. In contrast, the rest of the country saw an increase of six percent in teen pot use.

The survey also found that in 2005, approximately 20 percent of the entire U.S. population lived in states legalizing marijuana for medical reasons. However, those states saw more increases in adolescent marijuana use – up to two-thirds more than the rest of the country. Teen marijuana use in states that have not legalized marijuana has barely increased from 2005-2011.

Is Marijuana Really Medicine?

While the medicinal benefits of marijuana have been touted by some groups in this country, the FDA has yet to recognize the substance as a legitimate medication. Few controlled clinical studies have been performed on marijuana to determine the safety or efficacy of the substance for patients with certain medical conditions. This means the FDA is not able at this time to determine whether the benefits of marijuana outweigh the risks for these patients.

However, the FDA has approved medications that contain the chemicals from marijuana, known as cannabinoids. These medications are currently available in pill form, guaranteeing consistency in every dose taken. Known as dronabinol and nabilone, these medications can be safely prescribed to treat nausea in chemotherapy patients or stimulate appetite in patients suffering from AIDs.

The American College of Pediatricians has stated there is little scientific evidence to support marijuana as medicine and has also warned that legalization of the substance for medicinal purposes has also increased use of marijuana among adolescents. Marijuana legalization is not supported by key medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association.

Despite its legal status in some states, marijuana is a federally illicit substance that can be both addictive and dangerous. If you are struggling with marijuana abuse, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665.