IMPACT ON FAMILY LIFE
& YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Like all drugs, marijuana use affects more than just the user. It causes harm to innocent people, such as victims of drug-impaired driving, child neglect or abuse, secondhand smoking, and accidental ingestion.
More teens seek substance abuse treatment for pot than any other legal or illegal substance.
Legalization would normalize a dangerous drug that has been linked to increases in suicidal thoughts and suicide.
A 2021 study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of more than 280,000 young adults ages 18-35 showed that marijuana (marijuana) use was associated with increased risks of thoughts of suicide (suicidal ideation), suicide plan, and suicide attempt. Moreover, the researchers found that women who used marijuana at any level were more likely to have suicidal ideation or report a suicide plan or attempt than men with the same levels of marijuana use. [i]
Marijuana legalization wreaks havoc on family wellbeing and adolescent development by normalizing an addictive gateway drug.
Because young brains are still developing (and using pot just once or twice changes them), marijuana has a more serious and long-lasting effect on people who start using as teens.
States with recreational legalization have the highest teen usage rates.
A recent analysis using data from three large studies in Australia and New Zealand found that adolescents who used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or obtain a degree. They also had a much higher chance of developing dependence, using other drugs, and attempting suicide.[ii]
The “regulated market” being touted by legalization proponents would be a market that thrives on addiction and would open the door to an industry that has been proven to target young people are particularly vulnerable to marijuana-related harms.
Several studies have linked heavy marijuana use to lower income, greater welfare dependence, unemployment, criminal behavior, and lower life satisfaction.[iii],[iv]
Researchers looking at data on marijuana use between 2008 and 2016 found that rates of problematic use among teens rose faster in states where recreational marijuana had been legalized than in other states. Youth marijuana use was significantly associated with worse academic outcomes, persistent mental health problems, heightened risk for marijuana dependence, and increased risk of other substance abuse. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0706743716645289
[ii] Silins E, Horwood LJ, Patton GC, et al. Young adult sequelae of adolescent cannabis use: an integrative analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1(4):286-293. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70307-4
[iii] Fergusson DM, Boden JM. Cannabis use and later life outcomes. Addict Abingdon Engl. 2008;103(6):969-976; discussion 977-978. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02221.x
[iv] Brook JS, Lee JY, Finch SJ, Seltzer N, Brook DW. Adult work commitment, financial stability, and social environment as related to trajectories of marijuana use beginning in adolescence. Subst Abuse. 2013;34(3):298-305. doi:10.1080/08897077.2013.775092