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A New High: Understanding Modern Cannabis Use Among Teens

Gone are the days when "cannabis" just meant a simple joint. Today's landscape of cannabis use among teens has evolved dramatically, incorporating a plethora of high-potency products unknown to previous generations. As cannabis becomes more legally accessible across the United States, understanding these changes is crucial, especially for today's parents.

The term "cannabis" itself has shifted from the more colloquial "marijuana," partly to distance from historical racial stigmas. Modern cannabis isn't just about smoking dried leaves. Concentrates like oils, waxes, and powders with THC concentrations reaching up to 80% are becoming the norm, providing a much stronger effect than the 4% THC content commonly found in the 1990s.

As the potency of available cannabis increases, so does the risk to adolescents, who are particularly vulnerable to its effects. High THC levels can significantly influence brain development, potentially leading to diminished capacity for adapting to new experiences—a crucial part of growth during these formative years.

Vaping cannabis concentrates, often referred to as "dabbing," allows teens to consume cannabis discreetly, often escaping the distinctive smell associated with traditional smoking methods. This method of use is rising sharply among teens, nearly doubling in prevalence from 2017 to 2020.

The risks associated with high-potency cannabis are profound, including a greater likelihood of experiencing symptoms related to schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. This comparison is akin to the difference in alcohol content between beer and vodka, with concentrates representing a far more potent and risky option.

Early and honest discussions about the risks of cannabis are vital. Parents can use various resources to initiate these conversations before their children reach middle school, potentially steering them away from starting to use cannabis or other drugs.

As cannabis products continue to diversify and gain potency, the dialogue between parents and teens about drug use is more important than ever. Understanding the modern cannabis landscape is key to preventing adolescent use and ensuring healthy development.

Should schools implement more comprehensive drug education to address the rising use of potent cannabis concentrates among teens?

  • Definitely, education is key.

  • No, education should remain as it is.

  • Unsure


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