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    5 Things You Should Know About Medical Marijuana and Teens

    Date: 01.19.12 | by Judge Tom.

    This guest article is written by Paige Dagmar. Paige is a student and also writes for Pharmacy Degrees which helps students find the right pharmacy degree.

    With medical marijuana still a heated topic of discussion, we thought now would be a good time to discuss some of the basics surrounding how medical marijuana laws apply to teens and the minority of states that allow it.  To help, we have gathered five basic things every teen and their parents should know about it below.

    Photo by miss.libertine (Flickr)

    1. Which states?   There are many states where marijuana is still considered an illegal substance and you can be arrested no matter what the reason you have it is.  States that do allow medical marijuana include California, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Maine, Maryland*, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.   Even in these states, you need a doctor’s prescription or recommendation for marijuana and cannot smoke it in public.

    2. Can minors get medical marijuana?  If you live in a state that allows medical marijuana, there is a chance that a doctor would give a parent the recommendation for marijuana on behalf of the child.  In the state of Delaware, those who use medicinal marijuana must be 18 or over. The majority of the other states where medical marijuana is legal allow minors to have access with parental consent and the parent or legal guardian must control the dosage, acquisition, usage, etc. A few states including Arizona, Colorado, Michiganand Montanaalso require that the minor obtain two physicians’ authorizations for the medical marijuana. Be sure to check with your own state’s laws to find out the rules concerning minors and medical marijuana. Click here for more on each state’s laws.

    Photo by Neeta Lind

    3. Can pot help with anxiety?  Because marijuana can be calming, many prescriptions are written for those who have anxiety and other mental disorders.  It is extremely advisable to use caution before pursuing this route. The Berkeley Parents Network warns against this because the THC in marijuana can actually trigger psychosis in normal people, or feeling of extreme paranoia.  They also discuss how tobacco and alcohol can also be calming but are not recommended for minors or even adults.  They also reference studies that show that cannabis use can affect brain development in younger people.  Several states’ medical marijuana laws prohibit doctors from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana for mental or anxiety disorders.

    4. Can pot help with any mental disorder?  Before using medicinal marijuana, know exactly what you are trying to treat as there are certain diseases and conditions where medicinal marijuana can actually make things worse.  As reported by The Anti Drug, marijuana can make some mental disorders worse.  Weekly or more frequent use of marijuana can actually double a teen’s risk of depression and anxiety.   Pot smokers who are aged 12 – 17 can be three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and can even increase the risk for serious mental disorders like schizophrenia.

    If considering medicinal marijuana for any disease or condition, be sure to research not just the laws in your state, but the outcomes of treating your ailment with pot.  It is also important to know the addictive properties of marijuana as well as any side effects it can have.

    *In Maryland, qualifying patients who are charged with possessing up to an ounce of marijuana can avoid criminal sanctions. However, the law does not provide any means of access to medical marijuana.

    As of November, 2014 almost two dozen states have legalized the use of medical marijuana.


    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Mark
      Tue, 20 Mar 2012 at 10:03

      Before making conclusion that you’re teen is addicted to marijuana you should at first hand identify the signs of the addiction. You can’t just say that they are really using marijuana because they will feel by then that they are already misjudged and could trigger them to do it. Remember, don’t jump to conclusions yet.