I’ve always advocated against recreational use of marijuana, whether it’s legal or not, especially for kids and young adults. This is not a political statement. This is a clinical statement and even a parental statement as I’ve been very clear on this subject with my children.
“Hold on a second,” you might say. “Don’t I remember you advocating for cannabis for pain relief?”
That’s correct. CBD-based, medicinal marijuana used for pain and stress relief doesn’t produce the “high” that we associate with smoking marijuana. THC-based marijuana has the psychoactive compound that causes you to get high.
Marijuana as a recreational drug can have horrific side effects and consequences. It can affect your mood, perception, cognition, cardiovascular function, and respiratory function. It can also be particularly harmful to a child’s developing brain.
And let’s not pretend that the marijuana of today is the same as 30-40 years ago. Today’s synthetic drugs are far more addictive and, as a result, more dangerous.
I’m very concerned about the enormous toll drugs will take on a generation of young people that’s expected to consume more drugs – legal drugs – than any generation in American history. The acceptance of marijuana as a recreational drug is a scary proposition.
Look at it this way. Alcohol is legal. Cigarettes are legal. Vaping is legal. High-fructose corn syrup is legal. That doesn’t mean they’re healthy substances. You need to look at the science, have common sense, and make smart decisions.
Just because you have the right, that doesn’t make it right.
As a clinician, I can’t give you wellness. You as an individual are in control of your own wellness, even as a young person in high school or college or in the workforce. We as parents can teach you right from wrong and tell you what’s safe and what’s dangerous, but there will always come a time when you have to make your own choices.
You choose whether you’re going to educate yourself and make informed decisions about your health based on what you learn. The government could decide to legalize everything, but you as an individual have to choose what substances to put into your body, just like you do with food.
I’ve always said every person should be a healthcare consumer who is capable of becoming educated about their health, analyzing different situations and circumstances that they can control, and making sound choices based on what they know.
This doesn’t start after you’ve finished your education or started a family. Regardless of age, you should become better informed about your health as early as possible so you can make smart health choices, independent of an adult, because an adult won’t always be there to steer you in the right direction.
My message to young people is to educate yourself. Legal drugs are no less poisonous than when they were illegal. If you want to be successful and happy in life, stay away from drugs, legal or not. The risks just aren’t worth it.