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Marijuana in Denver is only legal for individuals 21 years or older; but with dispensaries and advertisements for marijuana everywhere you turn, do you have the facts that you need to explain to your child why it is important that they refrain from use?

Marijuana can have a dramatic effect on the developing teen brain. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana, which is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects, affects specific areas of the brain—pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement—which continue developing until 25.  Research suggests that frequent use of marijuana while your brain is developing can result in impaired learning and memory as well as a decreased IQ.

Teens who try marijuana are also nine times more likely than adults to develop a dependence on marijuana. The reason for this is that the brains limbic system, which is the reward system, develops first, while the prefrontal system, which controls judgment, develops at a slower speed- this means that there is a period during your teen years when the brain’s drive for pleasure is high, but its ability to make deliberate decisions is low.

Talking to your child about the effects of marijuana, and why it is important to you that they abstain from using, is the most beneficial thing that you can do to keep your kid from using marijuana. It is never too early to have an age-appropriate, non-judgmental discussion with your child. For tips on how to talk to your child about marijuana, check out the DenverRAP parent toolkit located at http://denverrap.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Parent-Tool-Kit.pdf.

If your child is using marijuana, there are many resources available in Denver for your child to receive the help that they need to stop. One example is the Substance Abuse Treatment and Education (STEP) Program at Denver Health, which offers supportive programs to help young people address and manage substance abuse addictions, including cannabis use disorder. For more information visit: http://www.denverhealth.org/medical-services/mental-health-and-addiction-services/our-services/adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment.


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