Unintended Consequences of Marijuana Laws

In my last column, entitled “Now That Marijuana Use Is Legal In California,” I focused on the importance of monitoring the effects of this major social experiment, especially with kids in mind. The article included a photograph of a teenager smoking a marijuana cigarette. www.irvinecommunitynewsandviews.org/health-safety-schools-kids/

Many who use marijuana want to avoid the socially unacceptable aspects of smoking, so they choose edibles — Gummies, chocolate chip cookies, granola, and many other “look-alike” products are available.

Last year, Colorado gave edibles a “new look to avoid confusion.” While this may have an effect on those who can read, do you think toddlers will be able to tell the difference between chocolates with marijuana and those without? View this CBS video. www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-gives-marijuana-edibles-new-look-to-avoid-confusion/

Like our colleagues in Colorado, pediatricians here in California are beginning to alert parents to the many ways that their children may be ingesting marijuana.  Marijuana use has skyrocketed in Colorado. Dr. Christian Thurstone, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is the director of one of Colorado’s largest youth substance- abuse treatment clinics. There is a surge of accidental ingestion by toddlers. www.drthurstone.com/category/marijuana/

Dr. Thurstone notes that any marijuana use by adolescents is harmful and can increase the risk of psychosis as young adults. That risk is dose-dependent. Changes in cognitive function have also been documented. Fifty-eight percent of new users are under 18.

Please submit any comments or suggestions for future articles to me at: phyllis@irvinecommunitynews.org.

Phyllis Agran, M.D.

Phyllis Agran is a practicing Orange County pediatrician, a Professor at the UC Irvine School of Medicine, and Past President of the Orange County Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Agran is a recognized national expert in pediatric injury control and prevention. She is also a member of the Irvine Unified School District's Medical Advisory Committee. Phyllis can be reached at phyllis@irvinecommunitynews.org
Phyllis Agran, M.D.