There are more than 200 names for marijuana , including pot, grass, reefer, and weed. No matter what you call it, marijuana is dangerous, “far more dangerous than most users realize,” according to the American Council for Drug Education.
Users may try to pressure your kids into using marijuana . Your kids may already be experimenting with it. But experimentation can become frequent use and abuse. Share these marijuana facts with your kids. Remind them of these facts again and again.
* Today’s marijuana is 300 more times more potent than the marijuana of the past. (NIDA Research Report)
* Marijuana is a gateway drug that often leads to the use of other drugs. About 60% of kids under age 15 who use marijuana go on to use cocaine. (American Council for Drug Education)
* When you buy marijuana you don’t know what you’re getting. Harmful substances – crack cocaine, PCP and formaldehyde – may be mixed in with marijuana . (NIDA)
* Daily users may have trouble paying attention, tracking a subject, and processing information. These effects linger for hours after marijuana use. (www.MayoClinic.com)
* Marijuana slows your reaction time, impairs your judgment, and makes it harder to respond to road signals and sounds. Driving under the influence of marijuana is downright dangerous. (NIDA for Teens: Marijuana )
* All cigarettes are dangerous, but marijuana cigarettes are more so because they don’t have filters and contain 50-70% more cancer causing substances. Users put themselves at risk for mouth, larynx, and lung cancer. (www.MayoClinic.com)
* Marijuana makes your heart beat 50% faster than normal, which can be scary. Long-term users risk high blood pressure, decreased blood flow to the heart, and inability to exercise. (www.MayoClinic.com)
* Teens under the influence of marijuana may engage in casual sex, risking pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. (American Council for Drug Education)
* Heavy marijuana use can put your hormones out of whack. If you’re male it may take your body longer to mature and you may have reduced sperm production. If you’re female you may have irregular monthly cycles and reduced ovulation. (American Council for Drug Education)
* Marijuana use leads to mental health problems such as paranoia, anxiety, and schizophrenia. You don’t know what’s real any more. (www.MayoClinic.com)
* Heavy marijuana users may suffer “protracted” (long-term) brain damage and become a “pot head.” Researchers don’t know if this damage is permanent. (NIDA Notes)
Marijuana is an illegal and addictive substance. Talk to your kids about the dangers of marijuana use today, tomorrow, and in the months to come. State your message clearly and firmly: Stay away from pot.
Copyright 2005 by Harriet Hodgson. To learn more about her work go to http://harriethodgson.com/