How new marijuana laws may affect our youth

Now that recreational use of marijuana is legal in California. Many parents are concerned about the trickle-down effect it could have on their children.

There may be just as many concerns as there are uncertainties surrounding the legalization of marijuana and the type of impact it could have on kids of today and future generations.

Psychologist Dr. Susan Napolitano says the legalization of marijuana could have huge ramifications on our youth and usher in an entire culture shift for the way young people grow up thinking of the drug.

"Technology is changing but generally the trend is we're numbing ourselves. Kids are numbing themselves through their phones and their video games and they're not interacting and looking at each other. This is one more numbing agent," Dr. Napolitano said.

Even though pot is now legal for those 21 and older opponents argue youth access will surely increase and that's what has local school districts concerned.

Clovis Unified Associate Superintendent, Norm Anderson said, "We have done some communication in the classroom and with our students around educating our students about the dangers of marijuana but also very careful of what they're consuming."

What they're consuming these days are edibles. Despite strict Prop 64 rules in place to prevent marketing to children school administrators say marijuana edibles in the form of brownies, lollipops and other packaged treats were already showing up on campuses prior to the passage of Prop 64.

"We've seen the availability of cannabis products in edible form and it's very unfortunate because we do have students across the Valley who have consumed this not knowingly and it not only presents a health danger but a safety danger to our students and staff," Anderson said.

Across the country, marijuana use among college students is becoming more and more commonplace.

In its latest study, the Drug Enforcement Administration says 38 percent of college students said they've used marijuana in the past year.

However, many worry we could see a higher number of curious young people becoming pot users because the drug is more readily available and the stigma attached to it has dropped off significantly.

Dr. John Forbes said, "Is this thing that's a little bit of fun right now, going to have some kind of limiting impact in the future and I would say is going to be more of the case for legalized marijuana."

Studies show today's teenagers believe marijuana is safer than alcohol but experts warn the more kids use pot the more damage it could have on their developing brains.

"It might make you chill, it might make you more relaxed and it might help some anxiety but generally does nothing towards a desire to be active, interested, alert. That's not the properties that it has," Dr. Napolitano said.

And how will families, who have no hangups about alcohol, potentially deal with pot being decriminalized.

Dr. Napolitano said, "A lot of parents with adult kids have no problem with their high functioning child as an adult coming home and sharing a glass of wine or beer together but when they light up a joint and say hey man it's legal. The family got some stuff they got to figure out."

Like it or not, this new era of legalized pot will no doubt be an adjustment for most.
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