American Academy of Pediatrics

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The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research, and Legal Update youth, American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, Studies, Research

·        These consequences include impaired short-term memory and decreased concentration, attention span, and problem solving, which clearly interfere with learning. Alterations in motor control, coordination, judgment, reaction time, and tracking ability have also been documented; these may contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries among adolescents (especially those associated with motor vehicles if adolescents drive while intoxicated by marijuana).
·        Negative health effects on lung function associated with smoking marijuana have also been documented, and studies linking marijuana use with higher rates of psychosis in patients with a predisposition to schizophrenia have recently been published, raising concerns about longer-term psychiatric effects. New research has also demonstrated that the adolescent brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex areas controlling judgment and decision-making, is not fully developed until the mid-20s, raising questions about how any substance use may affect the developing brain. Research has shown that the younger an adolescent begins using drugs, including marijuana, the more likely it is that drug dependence or addiction will develop in adulthood.
·         A recent analysis of 4 large epidemiologic trials found that marijuana use during adolescence is associated with reductions in the odds of high school completion and degree attainment and increases in the use of other illicit drugs and suicide attempts in a dose-dependent fashion that suggests that marijuana use is causative.

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Marijuana Use: Detrimental to Youth American Academy of Pediatrics, youth, Research, Side-Effects

In summary, marijuana use is harmful to children and adolescents.  For this reason, the American College of Pediatricians opposes its legalization for recreational use and urges extreme caution in legalizing it for medicinal use.  Likewise, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recently offered their own policy statement opposing efforts to legalize marijuana. They similarly pointed out that “marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.” Thus the AACAP (a) opposes efforts to legalize marijuana, (b) supports initiatives to increase awareness of marijuana’s harmful effects on adolescents, (c) supports improved access to evidence-based treatment, rather than emphasis on criminal charges, for adolescents with cannabis use disorder, and (d) supports careful monitoring of the effects of marijuana-related policy changes on child and adolescent mental health.49 The College agrees with this position on marijuana.

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Why AAP opposes marijuana use and legalization AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics

In its recommendations, the AAP opposes:
·      Marijuana use by children and adolescents (aged through 21 years) given evidence on the negative health and brain development effects.
·      Medical marijuana use outside the regulatory process of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although it recognizes it may be an option for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions for whom current therapies are inadequate.
·      Legalization of marijuana because of the potential harms to children and adolescents.
·      Use of smoked marijuana because smoking causes lung damage.

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American Academy of Pediatrics Reaffirms Opposition to Legalizing Marijuana for Recreational or Medical Use youth, AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, usage
  • ·        “Making it more available to adults – even if restrictions are in place – will increase the access for teens. Just the campaigns to legalize marijuana can have the effect of persuading adolescents that marijuana is not dangerous, which can have a devastating impact on their lifelong health and development.”
  • ·        For adolescents, marijuana can impair memory and concentration, interfering with learning, and is linked to lower odds of completing high school or obtaining a college degree. It can alter motor control, coordination and judgment, which may contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries. Regular use is also linked to psychological problems, poorer lung health, and a higher likelihood of drug dependence in adulthood. 
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