AAP: New Laws Do Not Denote Marijuana Use as Benign

Legalization in many states may lead parents, children to think the drug is benign
Legalization in many states may lead parents, children to think the drug is benign

HealthDay News — In a clinical report published online February 27 in Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidance to pediatricians regarding the increased dangers faced by children and teens since the legalization of marijuana in many states.

The clinical report attempts to challenge any perceptions that marijuana is safe, even as 29 states and Washington, DC, allow its use for medical purposes, recreational use, or both. Regular use of marijuana by adolescents may contribute to addiction, depression, psychosis, lung problems, memory and attention problems, and impaired driving, the AAP said. The academy recommends that pediatricians screen teens and preteens for substance abuse. If the children are found to be using drugs, doctors should suggest treatment options. 

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The AAP recommends that doctors urge parents not to use marijuana around their children. "Parents who use marijuana themselves may not fully realize the effect this can have on their children," Sheryl Ryan, MD, lead author of the report and chairperson of the academy's Committee on Substance Use and Prevention, said in an AAP news release. "Seeing parents use marijuana makes kids more likely to use it themselves, whether or not their parents tell them not to, because actions speak louder than words."

Ryan also cautioned about the potential of exposing children to secondhand smoke or, if they eat edible products, of accidentally poisoning their children. And parents who are high might not be able to keep their children safe, she added.

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