The Truth About Marijuana and Teens

Regular marijuana users often develop breathing problems, such as chronic coughing and wheezing. Marijuana contains the same cancer causing chemicals as tobacco. The amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed by those who smoke marijuana are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers, mainly because the marijuana smoker breathes in the drug deeper, and holds the smoke in their lungs longer. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinal). The behaviors exhibited by introducing THC to the brain are similar to those of alcohol. Marijuana can produce several responses such as relaxation, introspection, feeling connected with the world, irrational behavior, and paranoia. The use of marijuana by teens can affect school, sports, driving and other activities; Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers and motor vehicle crash victims.

Marijuana also affects memory, judgment, and perception. Teens who smoke marijuana on a regular basis start to lose interest in their appearance and how they are doing in school, at work, and at home. Researchers have found that heavy marijuana use impairs teenagers' ability to retain information and concentration, resulting in poor academic achievement and higher dropout rates.

Here in Hunterdon County the results of a 2010 survey of middle school students has shown 2.9% of students have used marijuana in the past 30 days; a 2011 survey shows that 21% of high school seniors have smoked marijuana in the past 30 days . According to the Prosecutor's Office, marijuana possession accounts for most cases at the Prosecutor's Office.

Research has established that marijuana is addictive. Every year more teens enter treatment with the diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined. Sixty percent of teens admitted for drug treatment say marijuana is their primary drug of choice



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