No one wants an underage child lighting up a joint (except the person selling the stuff to him). But the term that’s been used over and over again has been “recreational use.” Might this not suggest to some that marijuana is nothing but a harmless recreation, no more harmful than a sugary drink on a hot day? How do we plan to tell kids that there’s more to marijuana consumption than fun and games?
Will we tell them that marijuana use has been linked to no end of mental disorders? That many studies have associated pot use with the onset of psychosis and schizophrenia, as well as depression and anxiety? Or that other studies have found a correlation between marijuana use and incidences of suicide, especially among vulnerable youth?
Will there be warning labels and public advertising campaigns to inform users that marijuana is deleterious to health in a variety of ways? That it’s been linked to increased incidences of hypertension, myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmias, strokes, cardiac arrest, and even certain types of cancer? After all, do we think that pot smoke can be sucked into human lungs and not have negative effects?
In states where legalization has already happened, there has been increased use by pregnant women. How will we convey to these mothers-to-be that their babies are harmed by their use?
Will we continue to deliver the message favored by many legalization proponents, that marijuana is not addictive and isn’t really a “gateway” drug to worse substances? True, not everyone, or even most people, who smoke a joint get addicted or moves on to heroin later. But shouldn’t we relate to young people the findings of studies that suggest pot is often an addictive substance and does indeed serve for some users as a transition to stronger drugs like opioids? Or about a study a few years back from the Centers for Disease Control study which concluded that marijuana users are three times more likely to develop a heroin addiction?