(Chicago Sun-Times, Aug. 3) Just because it's there doesn't mean you should try it. It's an old adage that holds well when it comes to marijuana.
For one, the more people perceive that pot isn't that risky, the more likely they'll use it. But there comes responsibility with marijuana use, which many do not have the maturity to handle.
For example, marijuana's potency has risen dramatically since the previous generation. Today's pot is 22 times more potent in its psychoactive component, THC, than it was in the 1960's. Regular exposure to high levels of THC can cause serious negative impacts to the brain, particularly among teenagers whose brains are still developing. This explains why marijuana users have higher drop-out rates and lower academic achievement.
Another result of marijuana exposure is driving while high on marijuana. Since legalization in Washington state, marijuana-related traffic deaths doubled. And it's addictive, even though advocates may say otherwise. Addiction therapists have seen marijuana addicts struggle - with simple tasks from school and work, or even with expressing emotion. Others may suffer from mental health issues as a result, such as schizophrenia and anxiety.