The #1 Reason We Need to Be More Careful About Pot Messaging

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Despite the rapid rise of marijuana legalization across the country, not everyone is on board with the idea of making cannabis as accessible as alcohol. Those opposed to full legalization with few restrictions are concerned about unintended consequences. They are concerned about the messages associated with recreational cannabis.

It is hard to deny that some of those messages are potentially harmful to young people. Like it or not, most of the pro-cannabis movement said goodbye to the medical message years ago. It turns out that medical cannabis was used by activists as little more than a tool to get the proverbial foot in the door. As soon as medical cannabis is approved in a state, they move on to recreational use. And in some states, activists have already moved on to psychedelics.

The most disturbing aspect to all of this is the messaging. Visit any of the major pro-cannabis websites and you will see tons of messages that have everything to do with enjoying the cannabis lifestyle. You will see discussions about pursuing the ultimate high, how to use this device or that, how to layer, etc. You will rarely see any messages discussing the dangers of cannabis to young brains.

Teen Use Is Growing

In the push to declare cannabis harmless, we have lost sight of how messaging affects young people. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics back in October, 2021 shows that teen cannabis use doubled between 2013 and 2020. If tobacco use among teens grew at such a high rate, the country would be up on arms – and rightly so.

According to a group of doctors in Utah, who recently challenged parents to talk to the kids about cannabis, the child’s brain is not fully developed during the teen years. Young brains are still forming physical connections. Brain tissue is still growing and developing. Using cannabis during these formative years can result in damaging effects, including:

  • reduced cognition
  • lower IQ scores
  • impaired memory and attention span
  • increased risk of mental illness
  • increased risk of suicide.

All these risks should be motivation enough to keep kids away from cannabis. Most reasonable parents would agree. But that begs the question as to why we are not more careful about cannabis messaging. To some pro-cannabis activists, their favorite plant is the greatest thing in the world. It can be used completely risk-free and possibly cure everything that ails you.

Medical Use Only

There are some states, Utah being one of them, where legislators have not gotten on board with recreational cannabis. Lawmakers in the Beehive State have gone out of their way to make clear they do not intend to embrace recreational use any time soon. One of the things they are concerned about is the impact recreational consumption would have on young people.

In Utah, patients can only obtain medical cannabis from a licensed pharmacy – like Payson’s Pure Utah. Furthermore, minors can only obtain medical cannabis cards with the consent of a legal guardian and the state’s Compassionate Use Board. Utah is determined to keep cannabis away from kids.

Meanwhile, the party-like messages that are now part and parcel with recreational cannabis seem to be resonating with young people. That’s not good. If we don’t do a better job of controlling cannabis messaging, we are going to end up having to deal with a problem we wish we had never created.