Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition Takes Position on the Impact of Legalized Recreational Marijuana Use on Youth and Communities
(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – Motivated by the health and safety of our youth and communities, the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition has worked with community leaders from multiple sectors to develop a position paper that will be used to guide coalition efforts and initiatives to prevent youth use of marijuana.
Since medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio in 2016, there have been multiple attempts to legalize marijuana for recreational use, or “adult use” through ballot initiatives in the state. The ADC is taking a proactive approach to create awareness and educate the community prior to any future efforts about the impact reactional legalization may have on youth use. The ADC’s key areas of concern include:
- Legalized marijuana leads to increased youth marijuana use. Data provided for states with legalized marijuana indicates that the number of youth ages 12-17 using marijuana is above the national average.
- Youth are more susceptible to marijuana addiction. Statistics show that people who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder. Additionally, the human brain is still developing into a person’s mid-twenties and is vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances.
- The potency of THC in marijuana has increase significantly overtime. The THC concentration in commonly cultivated marijuana plants has increased from roughly four to 12 percent from 1995 to 2014 to 80-90% in 2019, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
- Youth trends in marijuana may lead to higher THC consumption. Marijuana can be mixed in foods, infused in beverages, and used in vaping devices. All these methods have the potential to significantly increase the amount of THC our youth consume.
- Youth marijuana use can create barriers to our youth reaching their full potential. Negative effects to the teen brain can include difficulty thinking and problem solving, problems with memory and learning, impaired coordination, and difficulty maintaining attention. Additionally, youth who use marijuana are less likely to finish high school, and more likely to experience lower life satisfaction.
Concerning the impact of legalized marijuana for recreational use on youth and communities, the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition stands to keep youth safe from marijuana use. The Coalition works to prevent increases in youth marijuana use, help youth reach their fullest potential, stay informed with the latest research and trends concerning youth marijuana use, educate our community, and oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana use because of the negative impact it can have on our youth.
As community leaders, educators, busines owners, law enforcement, faith leaders, healthcare professionals, governmental agencies, substance use prevention organizations, parents, and grandparents, we want our young people to be healthy and succeed in life.