Medical marijuana shouldn’t be an easy yes for Missouri voters

Medical marijuana shouldn’t be an easy yes for Missouri voters

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Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance among adolescents — the illegal drug they have used most widely for over 40 years. In the 2015 edition of a national annual study of high schoolers from the University of Michigan, almost 40 percent of high school seniors responded that they have smoked marijuana in the past year, and one in 17 reported smoking it daily. Additionally, 80 percent of seniors stated that marijuana is fairly easy to obtain, with its perceived risks at an all-time low: Only 35 percent called using it regularly a “great risk.” Substance abuse by adolescents is an ongoing health concern. Marijuana remains classified in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug, implying that it has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use and is unsafe for use under supervision by a physician. Despite this classification, marijuana has been legalized for medical purposes in a number of states, in direct opposition to federal law. Studies have demonstrated the potential negative consequences of short- and long-term recreational use of marijuana in adolescents. Smoking marijuana has negative effects on lung function, and studies have linked marijuana use with higher rates of psychosis in patients with a predisposition to schizophrenia. The adolescent brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex areas controlling judgment and decision-making, is not fully developed until people are in their mid-20s, raising questions about how any substance use may affect its development. The younger an adolescent begins using drugs, including marijuana, the more likely it is that drug dependence or addiction will develop in adulthood. A recent analysis of four large trials found that marijuana use during adolescence is associated with reductions in the odds of a student completing high school, and increases in the use of other illicit drugs and […]

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