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Legalized Marijuana: Making Smart Choices

Legalized Marijuana: Making Smart Choices

By Laura Perkins, MLS | July 9, 2015
Project Editor, ETR

Laws on the legalization of marijuana in the U.S. are changing rapidly. Since 1996, 23 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the use of marijuana to treat some medical conditions. A number of states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. And now Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21. The public health implications within this changing landscape are only just beginning to emerge.

From Reefer Madness to a Research-Informed Message

Studies show that marijuana use poses significant health risks, especially to young people and the developing teen brain. Young adults who use marijuana regularly are more vulnerable to substance-abuse problems, and are more likely to have cognitive impairment and perform poorly in school or drop out of high school than young people who don't use marijuana.

The risks posed to children are also deeply concerning. Edible products containing marijuana include candies and baked goods that are especially appealing to children. Studies have shown an increase in the number of calls to poison centers in states that have decriminalized marijuana.

ETR is proud to introduce a new title to help educators communicate some of the significant health risks involved with using marijuana. "Legalized Marijuana: Making Smart Choices" addresses questions about marijuana use in an effort to minimize risks and encourage informed choices. In addition to discussing some of the health risks to children and young adults, this title presents concerns about marijuana use and pregnancy and the safety risk of driving under the influence of marijuana.

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