Study Indicates Parents Think New Marijuana Laws Harm Teens
There are a lot of people getting on board with the movement to legalize marijuana. Around half of the states in the nation have now legalized cannabis for medical use, while many more have decriminalized it so that an arrest for possession of a small amount is no more serious than a traffic ticket.
Not everyone is in support of this initiative. In fact, an overwhelming majority of parents with teenaged children in the United States are concerned that legalized weed will make it more likely that their own children and others will end up trying out marijuana. This fact was found by a recent poll conducted online by Harris Poll, a survey which focused on parents whose children are between the ages of 13 and 17 years old. It found that fully 80% of the parents surveyed were of the opinion that marijuana legalization increases the likelihood that teenaged children will try marijuana, taking their first steps into the world of drug use.
The poll was commissioned by Rosecrance Health Network, one of the nation’s leading providers of substance abuse treatment. Rosecrance offers addiction treatment to people of all ages, including teenagers, and they have long experience in helping young adults to recover from their problems with drugs. Speaking about the results of the survey, Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Wright focused on the fact that legalization often creates a false expectation that a drug is safe. “Legal does not mean harmless,” he says, getting to the core of the issue. The same misconception has contributed to the massive epidemic of prescription drug abuse in America; patients assuming that their meds are safe because they came from the pharmacy often end up addicted and tens of thousands die of an overdose every year. Similarly, there is a well-founded fear on the part of most parents that legalizing marijuana will lead young people into believing that cannabis is safe. This myth is already supported by common talking points, such as “it’s just an herb,” “it’s all natural,” and “it’s not addictive,” all of which are typically voiced by people trying to advocate marijuana legalization. The recent survey also examined parents’ attitudes toward other questions surrounding the debate over making marijuana legal:
- 74% of parents say that teenagers can get addicted to marijuana
- 69% say that they believe that teens will be more likely to move onto other drugs after having easier access to the gateway drug marijuana
- 60% agree that marijuana is more powerful than it was in the past
Is marijuana really more powerful now than it was before?
In answering this last question, many parents are speaking out of experience. The men and women who are the fathers and mothers of today were by and large teenagers in the 1970’s and 80’s, decades when it was already common for young people to try smoking pot. By most estimates, however, marijuana has indeed become more potent over the years, the result of ongoing efforts to breed the plant for higher concentrations of THC, the chemical responsible for the high associated with pot. In the 1970’s, for example, most marijuana on the market had a THC concentration of less than 1%, and that increased to around 3-4% in the 90’s. Today, the average marijuana on the market has a THC concentration of about 13%, while some strains are cultivated with levels reported as high as 37%. So factually, while many of today’s parents may have tried smoking pot when they were teens, it simply isn’t the same thing for their own kids to follow in their footsteps. Hopefully, the 80% of parents who voiced their concerns over the legalization of marijuana will stand up and vote against measures to make weed more available to their own children and others’ children. A survey by the Harris Poll found that fully 80% of the parents surveyed were of the opinion that marijuana legalization increases the likelihood that teenaged children will try marijuana, taking their first steps into the world of drug use.