Young woman looking at the marijuana ad.

While marijuana remains a hotly contested issue across the country, most parents would agree that they would not want their teenage children to use marijuana. Up to this point, a 2019 study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that the more likely young people were exposed to medical marijuana advertisements, the more likely they were to experiment with cannabis.

There is no guarantee that advertising is harmless. To protect young people from exposure to cannabis, parents and communities should come together to call for medical marijuana companies Not advertise their products in public.

Why the US should limit medical marijuana advertising

California was the first state to pass comprehensive medical marijuana laws in 1996. By 2021, 36 states have legalized cannabis for medical use and 18 states for recreational use.

“Higher average exposure to MM [medical marijuana] Advertising was associated with higher average usage, usage intentions, positive expectations and negative consequences. “

As marijuana legalization advances, medical marijuana manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can freely promote their products on various media channels. Unfortunately, similar to alcohol and tobacco advertising, this harms young people. Quote from study authors D’Amico, Rodriguez, Tucker, Pedersen, and Shih: “Higher average exposure to MM [medical marijuana] Advertising was associated with higher average usage, usage intentions, positive expectations and negative outcomes. Similarly, higher rates of change in MM advertising presence were associated with higher rates of change in usage, intentions, expectations, and consequences over seven years. ”The association between medical marijuana advertising and adolescents is worrying.

Teenagers talk about marijuana

The researchers further indicated that not only is medical marijuana advertising likely to play an important role in placing a positive view of marijuana in the minds of young people, but that such advertising is also likely to be responsible for negative marijuana-related consequences among adolescents is. The authors cite: “The results suggest that exposure to MM advertisements not only plays a significant role in attitudes towards marijuana, but can also contribute to increased marijuana use and its associated negative consequences during adolescence. This underscores the importance of following regulations on marijuana advertising, similar to the regulations for promoting tobacco and alcohol in the US.

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Given the risk factors outlined above, a compelling argument could be made as to why US medical marijuana advertising should be subject to the same (if not stricter) regulations as tobacco. Few countries in the world allow medicines to be advertised so widely and freely to their residents, and the United States is one of them. In the case of medical marijuana, advertising undoubtedly does more harm than good.

There are higher rates of cannabis use among adolescents in areas where medical marijuana is promoted. With this in mind, policymakers, lawmakers, and local residents should take this as an indication that medical marijuana should be a matter to be discussed between a patient and their doctor, rather than an issue advertised on roadside posters and local media outlets .

Young people put themselves at risk when experimenting with cannabis

Teenage son in hospital, parents crying

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana use is widespread among adolescents and young adults. As of 2019, marijuana use among 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students is the highest since the early 1990s. Approximately 11.8% of eighth graders report using marijuana, 18.8% of tenth graders report using marijuana, and 35.7% of 12th graders report experimenting with marijuana. More than 11.8 million young people report using marijuana.

Medical emergencies related to marijuana have also increased, according to NIDA. There are approximately 450,000 to 500,000 emergency room visits related to cannabis use each year. About 13% of these cases involve an adolescent between the ages of 12 and 17 years.

The Importance of Parents Talking About Marijuana to Their Children

Even if the US took action to restrict medical marijuana advertising, some teenagers would still hear about cannabis from their peers. Some teenagers would still be intrigued by marijuana and want to experiment with it. This is why it is of the utmost importance that parents talk to their children about marijuana.

Parents need to speak to their sons and daughters about the harmful effects of cannabis. This has a significant impact on whether or not your children experiment with cannabis. Even if a young person has seen medical marijuana adverts and becomes interested in cannabis, having their parents talk to them about the harmful effects of marijuana can still be turned off.

Mothers and fathers of growing children should discuss:

  • Marijuana use can lead to deterioration in school performance;
  • Using marijuana can increase the risk of mental health problems;
  • The use of marijuana often leads to impairment of the ability to drive, which can be fatal;
  • One in six teenagers who repeatedly use marijuana becomes addicted to it;
  • Frequent, long-term marijuana use has been linked to dropping out of school and lower educational attainment;
  • Marijuana use in young people can permanently impair brain development;
  • Marijuana use can lead to difficulty thinking, problem solving, studying, remembering, and maintaining alertness.

Another factor to consider is that given that today’s marijuana is much stronger than it used to be, the harmful effects of marijuana are likely beyond what young people might think. According to NIDA, “In the early 1990s, the average THC level in marijuana was less than 4 percent. For some products, such as oils and other extracts, it is now around 15 percent and much higher. These resins [extracts] have 3 to 5 times more THC than the plant itself. Smoking or vaping (also known as dabbing) can release dangerous amounts of THC and has resulted in some people seeking emergency room treatment. ”

Take a stand against cannabis advertising

As a final note, the study authors, discovering the link between advertising medical marijuana and young people experimenting with marijuana, concluded their research with a warning to parents. Quote by Elizabeth D’Amico, Lead Study Author and Senior Behavioral Scientist at RAND: “Our results suggest that increased exposure to medical marijuana advertisements is linked to increased marijuana use and its associated negative effects during adolescence. As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, we need to think carefully about how best to regulate marijuana advertising so that we can reduce the likelihood of harm, especially to teenagers. This work underscores the importance of maintaining marijuana advertising regulations that are similar to those already in place to curb tobacco and alcohol advertising in the United States. ”

Dr. D’Amico is right. The fact that young people exposed to medical marijuana advertisements are more likely to experiment with cannabis is worrying. American families, communities, policymakers, lawmakers, and public health officials need to reassess the real harms and risks of cannabis advertising.

In the interests of public health and the safe, healthy future of young people, cannabis advertising should be heavily regulated and all but eliminated, much like tobacco advertising.