The Arizona Academy of Pediatrics recently came out against Proposition 203, because states with medical marijuana laws have far higher rates of teenage marijuana use.
They used data from the government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Between 1999 and 2006, the number of teens who used marijuana at least once a month was 20 percent higher in states with medical marijuana laws. In 2007 and 2008, it was 30 percent higher.
There are two reasons so many teens smoke pot in medical marijuana states. One is that marijuana is more available. In states with laws like the one proposed for Arizona, only 2-3 percent of the marijuana goes to people with serious illnesses. Instead, most goes to people under age 40, many of them teens.
The second reason is these laws send the message that marijuana is safe. What else would teens believe when they see adults using it for everyday aches and pains?
But marijuana hits teenagers really hard, especially in school. Research shows that teenagers who use marijuana regularly find it harder to learn, get lower grades, and are less likely to finish high school. If Proposition 203 passes, Arizona will probably see an additional 2,000-3,000 students drop out of school every year.
This is not what we want for the next generation of Americans. The terrible effect medical marijuana laws have on teenagers is one reason many medical professionals, including Arizona’s pediatricians, recommend a no vote on Proposition 203.
Behavioral health and addiction specialist