March 2022 Cannabis Update

The legislative overview of the legalization of cannabis is that as of February 22nd, 2021 three bills were signed to law which were the legalization of cannabis, marijuana discrimination and other clarifying provisions.

There are offenses for underage use. The first offense is a written warning and also includes parental notification due to the March 26th amendment. The second offense is a written warning, parental notification and information in regards to community drug treatment services. The third or subsequent offense includes a written warning and if an individual is under the age of 18, there will be parental and treatment program notifications.

Today’s Cannabis is far more potent. The average THC content in marijuana has risen dramatically over the past ten years. As states are legalizing cannabis, it is leading to an increasing variety of products providing multiple options for consumption such as inhalation, concentrates, topicals and edibles. With edibles particularly, there is a delay in the psychoactive effects when consuming edibles can be anywhere from 1 to 3 hours and can result in a person consuming more than one portion.

There are ripple effects. For instance, there are health risks of substance misuse and negative effects on essential bodily functions, there are safety effects due to impaired driving which have resulted in an increase of traffic fatalities. The environment is also at risk due to the chemicals used to keep animals from destroying their crops and equipment which leads to high amounts of energy and changes to the land structure.

Some interesting terminology is Regulated Cannabis, Marijuana and Hashish. Regulated Cannabis is legally bought, sold and used cannabis. Marijuana and Hashish are not regulated and are classified as a controlled dangerous substance.

There are also municipal considerations. For example, all existing ordinances prior to the legislation are null and avoid. Municipalities had until August 21st, 2021 to opt in or out. After opting out, a municipality can opt back in at any time. Also, if a municipality takes no action, they are opted in by default and no changes can be made for five years. We would like to note that Cannabis remains illegal federally.

The youth usage data from states with legalized cannabis, specifically Colorado, Michigan and California show high rates of youth usage.

We must keep our youth safe and healthy. The brain is not fully developed until 25. Once drugs enter the brain, they interfere with its normal tasks and can eventually lead to changes in how well it works.

Regular cannabis use early in life can result in impairments such as poor academic performance, deficits in attention, information processing and memory. Some signs of impairment are red eyes, slurred/altered speech, drowsiness/hyperactivity and poor coordination.

Key points to starting a conversation with youth in regards to cannabis: keep an open mind, be clear about goals, be calm and relaxed, have a positive outlook, don’t lecture, find a comfortable setting, be aware of body language and put yourself in their shoes.


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