Marijuana legalization creates drug education challenges
- Now that California voters have approved recreational marijuana use for adults, drug education and prevention programs say teaching students about the risks of use has become more challenging, according to an NPR report.
- The article quotes a RAND Corporation researcher who says that students tend to think that if it’s legal — and if they are increasingly seeing ads for dispensaries — then it’s OK for them to try it.
- The California Department of Public Health has created the Let’s Talk Cannibis website, which explains the health risks associated with marijuana use as well as the consequences if someone under 21, who doesn’t have a medical marijuana identification card, is caught with any amount of the drug.
The fact that some states have legalized recreational use and others haven’t also sends a confusing message to youth. Elizabeth D'Amico, a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, says in a video she developed for parents, but that is also useful for educators, that telling students their brains are still developing is the best reason to give them for why they shouldn’t smoke marijuana. Educators can also say that like alcohol, marijuana can impair judgment and affect learning, and that like tobacco, smoking marijuana is dangerous to the lungs.
Meanwhile school administrators in Florida have the additional challenge of implementing a law which now allows children who are prescribed the drug for conditions such as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis to take it at school. The law also requires school districts to develop medical marijuana policies, but officials say the legislation isn’t clear about who can administer the drug to a child at school.
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