Unfortunately, the news on the popularity of marijuana keeps getting worse, not better.
For example, a new Gallup poll released this month found that regular marijuana use has surpassed cigarette use in the U.S. The survey found that 16 percent of Americans say they currently smoke marijuana, while a total of 48 percent say they’ve tried it in their lifetime, but just 11 percent of respondents smoke cigarettes.
The same survey found more positive attitudes about marijuana than about either alcohol or cigarettes, with more than 70 percent of respondents saying alcohol’s effect is negative, 83 percent saying the same about cigarettes, but slightly less than half of those surveyed saying marijuana has negative effects.
A second study, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), found that marijuana use among young adults has been steadily rising in the past 10 years, reaching an all-time high last year. In the 19- to 30-year-old age group, nearly 43 percent reported using marijuana in the past 12 months, up from 29 percent in 2011 and 34 percent in 2016.
Growing acceptance, more risks
As long as adults continue to treat this potentially dangerous drug as “no big deal,” kids will see it that way, too.
The biggest part of the problem is the growing misconception that marijuana is no more—and potentially less—harmful than alcohol. But as marijuana use becomes more widespread and accepted among the general population, more side effects are also becoming evident.
Among the many serious adverse effects of marijuana, especially in younger users, are anxiety, depression, and psychosis, along with thoughts of suicide. In addition, another serious reaction has emerged: severe abdominal pain, nausea, and cyclic vomiting.
Dr. Sam Wang, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist, and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital in Colorado noted this unusual effect during a study he conducted there between 2013 and 2018.
Although not seen in every marijuana user, his analysis found over 800,000 cases of the little-known condition during that timeframe. More than a third were those under the age of 25.
“They vomit and then just continue to vomit whatever they have in their stomach, which can go on for hours,” he told CNN.
It’s important that parents continue to present the reality about marijuana (and other drugs) to kids so they can set aside popular misconceptions on their own. NIDA presents a comprehensive factsheet here. (https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cannabis-marijuana)