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Guest Column: Marijuana poses risks for teenage brain

February is Marijuana Awareness Month. As more states have legalized marijuana, the perceived risk of harm has decreased among youth. This leads to an increased use of marijuana among teens. Most Hubbard County students do not use marijuana in a typical month, but all students are at risk. Some youth may try marijuana because of peer pressure or to fit in. They may continue to use marijuana to relax, have fun, or to avoid or cope with problems or difficult feelings.

While there is research that marijuana has beneficial uses, it does have harmful consequences. This is especially true for the developing teen brain, which does not fully develop until their mid-20s. Some negative effects of marijuana use include the following:

• Difficulty with memory and problem solving;

• Impaired coordination;

• Difficulty maintaining attention;

• Lack of motivation.

Long-term marijuana use in teens is linked to a decline in school performance, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. There is also a risk of mental health issues and the potential for addiction with long term use. Research shows that approximately one in six teens who repeatedly use marijuana can become addicted.

Know that facts about the harmful effects of teenage marijuana use and talk to your teens about the importance of not using or experimenting with marijuana. When talking to your teen, remember to keep an open mind, put yourself in their shoes. Be clear about your goals, what you want to get out of the conversation. Be careful not to lecture. Stay calm, relaxed and positive.

We have great kids in Hubbard County and want to empower them to make safe and healthy choices.

Hubbard in Prevention Coalition and other partners in the community are working hard at changing the culture and behavior around underage marijuana use. For more information and resources on this and other topics, contact hubbardinprevention@gmail.com or visit our website at www.hubbardinprevention.org.

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