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New Study Advises Parents Against Letting Teens Use Pot

An influential US doctors group has released a new report advising parents against allowing their teens to use marijuana.

AFP

Updated:March 1, 2017, 1:34 PM IST
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New Study Advises Parents Against Letting Teens Use Pot
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An influential US doctors group has released a new report advising parents against allowing their teens to use marijuana.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published the report in the journal Pediatrics amid increasingly relaxed attitudes towards marijuana use, and increasingly relaxed laws.

Many US states have now legalized medical use for adults, with many also decriminalizing or legalizing recreational use among adults.

However recreational use remains illegal for those under age 21, even in states that allow adult use.

Following the recent changes parents are increasingly asking doctors about marijuana use for their children, said Dr. Seth Ammerman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor who co-wrote the report.

The doctors group is against medical and recreational marijuana use for kids, with Dr. Ammerman explaining that, "Many parents use the drug and think it's OK for their kids."

"Parents will say, 'I use it moderately and I'm fine with it, so it's really benign and not a problem if my kid uses it,'" but "we would rather not mess around with the developing brain," he added.

As the brain continues to develop until the early 20s there are concerns about what short- and long-term effects a mind-altering drug could have on more immature brains.

Some studies have suggested that teens who use marijuana at least 10 times a month develop changes in brain regions affecting memory and the ability to plan, with other research suggesting that frequent use starting in the early teen years may lower IQ scores.

The new report also warns that some of these changes may be permanent.

Other studies have also shown that starting marijuana use at a young age is more likely to lead to addiction than starting in adulthood, however not all teenagers who use marijuana will go on to develop these problems and some may be more at risk due to genetics or other factors.

With regards to the effects of medical marijuana on children and teens, solid research is still lacking.

Some studies have suggested that medical marijuana may be beneficial for children with hard-to-treat seizures, although the new report also points out that other potential benefits, doses and effects are mostly unknown.

The new report now advises parents to avoid using marijuana in front of their children and to keep all marijuana products stored out of sight, adding that young children who accidentally swallowed their parents' cookies or drinks containing the drug have had to be taken to the emergency room to treat what was mostly minor symptoms but also breathing problems.

Dr. Sheryl Ryan, a Yale University pediatrics professor and lead author of the academy report, also added that marijuana "is the drug of choice" for many of her teenage patients, with some pointing out that as their parents or grandparents smoked pot in college with no negative effects, daily use must be safe. However Ryan warned that today's marijuana is much more potent, and therefore potentially more risky.

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| Edited by: Gurleen Nagpal
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