Doctors warn against teen pot use amid looser marijuana laws

An influential doctors group is beefing up warnings about marijuana’s potential harms for teens amid increasingly lax laws and attitudes on pot use.

CHICAGO (AP) — An influential doctors group is beefing up warnings about marijuana’s potential harms for teens amid increasingly lax laws and attitudes on pot use.

Many parents use the drug and think it’s OK for their kids, but “we would rather not mess around with the developing brain,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman.

The advice comes in a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published Monday in Pediatrics. The group opposes medical and recreational marijuana use for kids. It says emphasizing that message is important because most states have legalized medical use for adults, and many have decriminalized or legalized adults’ recreational use.

Those trends have led parents to increasingly ask doctors about kids’ use, said Ammerman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor who co-wrote the report.

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“Parents will say, ‘I use it moderately and I’m fine with it, so it’s really benign and not a problem if my kid uses it,’” he said.

Doctors need to know how to respond to that thinking, and parents and teens need to know the risks, Ammerman said.

POTENTIAL HARMS

The brain continues to develop until the early 20s, raising concerns about the potential short- and long-term effects of a mind-altering drug. Some studies suggest that teens who use marijuana at least 10 times a month develop changes in brain regions affecting memory and the ability to plan. Some changes may be permanent, the report says.

Frequent use starting in the early teen years may lower IQ scores, and some studies have shown that starting marijuana use at a young age is more likely to lead to addiction than starting in adulthood. Not all teen users develop these problems and some may be more vulnerable because of genetics or…

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