I Made my first visit of the new year to MMS this Tuesday, and I spent the day talking to the 8th grade about edible THC products. We started by writing down some notes about marijuana that refresh and build on what we talked about last year:
- Marijuana is not a vitamin or a health food.
- Marijuana is a plant that contains the hallucinogenic drug THC.
- THC makes your heart beat faster and disrupts balance, vision, coordination and reaction time.
- THC makes it hard to recall information and negatively impacts learning.
- Kids that use THC may permanently lower their intelligence.
- THC can be just as addictive as any of the other recreational drug.
- Abusing THC can trigger mental illness.
- Smoking/vaping marijuana is just as bad for your lungs as smoking/vaping anything else.
I then turned the discussion to edible THC products. In the last number of years, eating THC or marijuana dosed products have become more and more popular. Users might view eating marijuana as a healthier alternative because there is no smoking involved, but eating a drug like THC creates its own set of hazards. Here are some of the highlights we discuss:
- Edible marijuana or “edibles” are food products made with cannabis as an ingredient.
- Smoking or Vaping is an immediate gratification because the user feels the effects of the drug within a few seconds. It takes much longer to feel the effects of a drug after eating it because the drug will slowly be absorbed as it travels through the digestive system. As a result, users may have different reactions to the same drug depending on how they use it.
- THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana,
is metabolized differently by the body when it is eaten as compared to smoked and is actual a more potent compound when eaten.
- Edible THC takes a longer time to affect the brain (late onset); and it is notoriously difficult to control the dose, leading to easier THC intoxication and overdose.
- Many labels for THC content are undependable regarding dosage standards and knowing what is in the package.
- THC content is extremely hard to quantify. Every batch is different. Every user reacts differently due to body size, amount of other food in the stomach, and varied response to THC.
- THC use impacts the still-developing teenage brain differently than it impacts an adult’s brain. The teen brain is particularly vulnerable to adverse developmental changes and higher rates of addiction related to THC use.
- Edibles have been linked to paranoid behavior leading to injury and death.
- We discuss real stories of teens that have experienced serious consequences as a result of using edible marijuana.
Our discussion ended with a talk on the recent changes in the law. Although the laws legalizing recreational marijuana in California took effect on Jan 1, cities all over the state are still trying to figure out the rules and guidelines for adults to use the drug. Add the contradictory Federal laws that still outlaw THC products, and the legalization of marijuana is still a very confusing and ambiguous topic.
With that being said, I reminded the students that the rules regarding kids and marijuana haven’t changed at all: a school aged child that gets caught in possession of or using a marijuana product is breaking the law and will face consequences from law enforcement, school administration and (hopefully) their families. There is nothing ambiguous about that, and those rules are in effect no matter where they live in the USA until they are 21.
I think its important to talk to the kids about marijuana in depth at least once a year, and this presentation builds on the material from the previous year. As always, please talk to your kids about their experiences and interactions with their peers. Every one of them will be making choices (such as whether or not to try drugs like THC) as they progress through middle school and high school. The more guidance they get from parents and the more fore-thought they put into these decisions, the more prepared they will be to make decisions for themselves. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.