Last Tuesday, 63% of Cook County voters said they wanted recreational marijuana to be legalized for those age 21 and over, in order to raise tax revenue. It is a non-binding referendum, but it shows the tide is turning on how the public views this controversial drug.
In 2013, Illinois legalized marijuana for medical use with certain conditions and a doctor’s prescription. Voters asked about the vote had a variety of opinions. Some felt it would free jail costs and raise tax income for Illinois’ struggling economy. Some police interviewed said they were worried it would increase DUIs with the increasing number of people driving high, not just drunk. A number of citizens were alright with it for medical reasons, but alarmed with just allowing it like alcohol since that is often abused.
A larger concern for parents is, “What do I tell my teen now that public sentiment is becoming so positive about pot?” A number of local school districts have sent parents information about e-cigarettes, the trend of vaping. A recent study found e-cigarettes in a lab test contained ten times more cancer causing substances (due to plastic burning) than regular cigarettes. Kids can vape nicotine, flavored gas or drugs like cannabis. The pens that are used to vape are small, and easy to conceal in clothes or backpacks. Due to this study, parents could start a talk about it with their teens discussing the physical health concern first.
Many health experts have a variety of concerns about marijuana. It is often laced with club or other drugs that trigger paranoia or psychosis. Several studies have shown the stronger strains in recent years could be habit forming, even though the drug is classified not as physically addictive as opiates, but psychologically habit-forming.
Another study showed a drop in IQ (measure of intelligence) of several points with regular use. Other experts point out often regular users of cannabis develop lung cancer or lower their motivation to attend work or school. Some gain weight from the effect of the drug to increased appetite.
If you have a concern about loved ones in terms of drug or alcohol abuse, call Dunham Counseling today at (630) 799-0100.
By Krista Sherinian, LCSW
Dunham Counseling Center