Weed is everywhere.

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At least here in Colorado, but really, everywhere. I guess it always has been, and that didn’t seem to be that big of a deal. As a clinician, it comes as a relief if a teenager prefers weed to alcohol; less car accidents, less non-consensual sex, a culture of kind, maybe even philosophical friends.

Meanwhile, it’s a becoming a huge problem. Edibles, vape pens, dabbing. Marijuana is available in intensely high doses and can be undetectable by parents and teachers. Some teens are high 24/7. Literally. Some use it to self-medicate, saying it helps their anxiety. That might be true, at least at first. But different strains act differently in the brain; most teens are happy to get their hands on any weed and don’t know what they are smoking. One day they feel good, the next they feel paranoid and antisocial. One day, they might take a test high and pull it off. They try to replicate that, and fail the next one. Coming down from being high, people are irritable, tired, and might have rebound depression, anxiety, stress. Some people can’t control how much they eat when they are high, then feel guilty, compounding body image issues. Most people are lethargic on weed, so they exercise less, too. One big problem with marijuana is it seems so versatile; every situation is a reason to get high. Movies, get high. Going out to eat, get high. Boring class, get high. Weekends, high. You get the point.

Regardless of whether marijuana seems to be “working” or not, there is compounding evidence that it’s bad for young brains. As with all drugs, the rule is, wait till you’re 25. This is laughable to teens, who strive to party pretty hard and to plan not to be concerned about their brains for several years. They feel invincible. And apathetic. Oh, did I mention weed makes people more apathetic?! But unfortunately, it doesn’t make them invincible.

What’s the solution? Let’s begin with, who needs to be high 24/7? That’s a clear signal that something is wrong. Real life, sober life, needs to be tolerable, enjoyable. Get to the bottom of that. Smoke less. Way less. Or, just wait. Every day, month, year later a teen starts smoking, the better. If a teen has real anxiety or stress, get professional help. Of course, there are larger policy decisions to be made, including this one. Sorry for the constant NYTimes references, but, hey, it’s a good resource! Read this:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/16/opinion/marijuana-brain-effects.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share