Marijuana Today and Yesterday Prior to 1990, the THC content in marijuana used to be around 2-4%. In 2017, in states where there are stores that legally sell marijuana to the public, the THC content has increased to approximately 28%. This means that the THC content between marijuana used in 1990 and now is around 14 times stronger. If the strength of alcohol in beer increased in the same manner, having one beer today would be equal to having between 14 beers in 1990. Marijuana oils that tend to be vaped have much higher concentrations of THC (usually around 95%). These are more than a 100 times stronger potency than the marijuana of 1990s. What this all mean is that today’s marijuana is not the same drug as what many parents might have experienced when they were young. The added strength in today’s marijuana results in extremely different effects on the body than it did years ago. This is why health professionals are reporting greater occurrences of marijuana use resulting in increased heart rate and bronchitis; cancer; anxiety, and sleep and fatigue. Regular or frequent use can also result in changes in brain function, mental illness (depression, schizophrenia), and addiction. Yes, today’s marijuana a is highly addictive!

Marijuana, Youth and the Brain Young peoples’ brains continue to develop until their mid-20s. Changes in the brain in middle school effect changes in the body (growth in height, weight, and body maturation), emotion (being better able to regulate feelings and moods), and thinking (being able to make better decisions and problem solving). Marijuana effects the brain differently for middle schoolers than adults because of their brain is not fully developed. Research has shown teens who use marijuana are more likely to report decreases in brain volume, poorer attention, verbal skills, and self-regulatory behaviors. Studies have also shown that the effects of marijuana on brain function cannot be reversed. ACTION STEP: We recommend that parents use how, what , and why questions to engage their middle schoolers in conversation about how marijuana’s works in the body. Here are some examples: How do you think marijuana effects a young person’s body or brain?

What makes you think that?

What could happen to a middle school person after using marijuana that would concern you? Why do you think some people think marijuana is not dangerous?


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