Monday, April 15, 2013

UPC Weekly Blog 4-15-13: Prepare to discuss 4/20 with youth

April 20 is almost here.  Does this date hold any significance for you? If not, ask the nearest teen or young adult about 4/20.  The blog will wait...go ask them...or "Google it" if you don't have access to youth. We need to know about 4/20 and be prepared to discuss its significance.
Our Ulster County Youth Development Survey indicates that youth perceive their parents as somewhat accepting of marijuana use.  I find that many adults are truly ambivalent when it comes to marijuana. Perhaps you smoked it in your younger years and feel that no harm came of it. You may have heard that marijuana is the only thing that has helped cancer or glaucoma patients. We must be clear about these issues ourselves and prepared to have intelligent conversations with youth.
I recommend that you start by visiting the National Institute on Drug Abuse at for accurate information.
Here are some talking points gleaned from the site:
  • More teenagers are now current (past-month) smokers of marijuana than of cigarettes
  • marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers 
  • In 2009, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 10 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s
  • marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory persists after the acute effects of the drug wear off
  • regular marijuana use by young people can have long-lasting negative impact on the structure and function of their brains
  • a large prospective study (following individuals across time) showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost as much as 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38
  • marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking 
  • frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections
  • a series of large prospective studies showed a link between marijuana use and later development of psychosis
 About so-called medical marijuana:
  • there have not been enough clinical trials showing that marijuana’s benefits outweigh its health risks in patients with the symptoms it is meant to treat
  • to be considered a legitimate medicine, a substance must have well-defined and measureable ingredients that are consistent from one unit (such as a pill or injection) to the next
  • THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed, and scientists continue to investigate the medicinal properties of cannabinoids
  • Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among daily users (to 25-50 percent)
  • Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving 
Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

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