Don’t legalize marijuana

Efforts to legalize marijuana appear to be focused solely on adults; however, we know from the past any change in marijuana’s legal status could nonetheless have an effect on our youth.

Alcohol, illegal for those under 21, and tobacco products, illegal under 18, are substances most widely abused by adolescents.

Some research suggests that legal sanctions may influence the initial decision to use the drug. Young adolescents who have not tried marijuana or are in the experimentation phrase would be affected most by changes in marijuana laws.

My work with child development shows moral development in children and adolescents assumes a developmental trajectory.

Early adolescents have a concrete approach to morality: laws are obeyed to avoid punishment. As such, young adolescents would be most susceptible to the deterrent effects of drug laws. This deterrent effect could disappear or lessen with legalization of marijuana.

Parental drug use is an important influence on adolescents’ drug use.

Recent data indicate that easy household access to illicit substances is associated with greater risk of marijuana use among both younger and older adolescents.

From a public health perspective, even a small increase in use, whether attributable to increased availability or decreased perception of risk, would have significant ramifications.

Here is a frightening fact: if only an additional 1 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States began using marijuana, there would be approximately 190,000 new users.

More than two-thirds of treatment admissions involving those under the age of 18 cite marijuana as their primary substance of abuse.

The impact on our future is devastating. Fight to stop the legalization of marijuana.

Susanna Tomlinson