A recent study by the American Psychological Association revealed that teenagers who smoke marijuana are not at risk of developing mental or physical health problems in their adult years. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Rutgers University. The study sought to debunk prior studies that linked teen marijuana use with psychotic symptoms, cancer, asthma and respiratory problems.
The study was conducted for twenty years. Researchers tracked 408 males from adolescence to their mid-30’s, monitoring the long term effects of marijuana usage. Four study groups were divided into non users, early chronic users, participants who only used marijuana during adolescence, and current users who started smoking in their late teen years. Other factors that could influence the findings (cigarette smoking, drugs and access to health insurance) were controlled.
The study helps the marijuana industry because it gives further support against the dangers of marijuana which remains listed as a Schedule 1 drug. This research helps to educate the DEA and influence marijuana’s assignation as a Schedule 2 drug, which would, in turn, lead it to becoming federally legal.
But the mission of establishing a regulatory system for the marijuana industry doesn’t pertain to teens that use the drug recreationally. Regulatory compliance means providing safe access of marijuana to patients and adults, not teens, for recreational and medical use. The goal isn’t to establish a regulatory system that protects adolescents from the harmful effects of marijuana. On the contrary, an established regulatory system aims to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors. According to D.A.R.E. representative and former deputy sheriff Carlis McDerment, “I support marijuana legalization precisely because I want to reduce youth’s drug use. The answer isn’t prohibition and incarceration; the answer is regulation and education.”
Also, teen marijuana users will, in all likelihood, smoke marijuana. It’s highly unlikely that a doctor recommends smoking marijuana to a patient. It’s no secret that smoke contains harmful toxins that can alter the histology and physiology of the airways and lungs. The safer forms of marijuana include ointments, patches, edibles and intraocular drops. These are the preferred forms that are administered to patients that use marijuana as a medical form of treatment. Therefore, the study helps to influence the reclassification of marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, but does little to help the regulatory effort of keeping it out of the hands of minors.