While Nevada looks to the prospect of marijuana being legalized for recreational use, the state is also gazing into a future that puts its teenage population at risk for higher drug use and high school drop out rates.
That’s if what’s happened in Colorado and Washington are any indication of what’s destined to occur in the “Silver State.”
According to statistics in those states, the legalization of recreational marijuana has resulted in a significant increase in teen-age use of the drug. In the case of Colorado the percentage of the population ages 12 and up who have used marijuana in the past year is 18.9 percent, while in Washington, it’s 17.5 percent.
While a recent article in Forbes magazine stated that general use of marijuana has remained mostly steady, it did recognize that marijuana is the most popular illicit drug among kids in the United States, with one in three having smoked it. Those statistics, however, dated back to 2012 and referred only to medical marijuana.
According to 2013 Nevada Kids Count data, nearly one in five of Nevada kids and young people ages 12 to 25 already smoke marijuana one or more times a month. African-American and Hispanic populations account for significantly higher percentages among Nevada’s youth.
Setting aside the statistical data, it’s the detrimental results of such drug use that matters. Research shows that youngsters and teens who use the drug think more slowly, process less information, and perform more poorly on high school tests and college entrance exams. College-age students who routinely smoke pot perform poorly in the classroom and beyond.
As President Obama recently stated publicly, “Students who smoke marijuana have twice the odds of being a high school dropout. And have trouble finding jobs, get involved in gangs and crime, and end up on welfare.”
In short, legalizing recreational marijuana will be bad for Nevada kids, bad for Nevada families and just plain bad for the state. If voters pass the measure in November, it will only put the state’s children – and future adults – at greater risk of not reaching their full potential.
Putting aside arguments as to how monetary profits from marijuana’s recreational legalization could be beneficial, legalizing a mind-altering substance will result in greater access to illegal underage use and that means more harmful consequences, plain and simple. Regular marijuana use is undeniably detrimental to the fragile developing brain of adolescents and young adults – and to their chances for the most successful, productive life possible.