Marijuana Edible Use Increasing Among Youth

A recent survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed teens now see fewer risks in smoking marijuana. Marijuana use continues to exceed the use of cigarettes. Further, marijuana edibles are on the rise. These popular edibles are sold in fun, colorful packages and flavors that are appealing to kids.

We spoke to Orange County Sheriff Deputy Angela Andrade, who works with our community’s schools on drug prevention, and she shared the following tips for families:

Q: What are marijuana edibles?
A: Marijuana edibles are food items that are infused with marijuana. Edibles can be made at home with readily available recipes and are also sold pre-packaged. Along with any marijuana use, these edibles may cause negative effects on a youth’s brain, including loss in IQ and poor learning outcomes. Kids usually make them at home or get them from friends. Some marijuana dispensaries are known to carry the pre-packaged edibles.

Today, marijuana has THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects) levels that are 15-25 percent higher than what was found in marijuana in previous years.  Reprocessed substances, known as “concentrates,” are also on the rise and can reach THC levels as high as 99 percent. Marijuana concentrates are usually found in four categories, which look like gooey or wax-like substances: hash oil, honeycomb wax, budder, as well as kief (crystals). Concentrates are made by separating the active cannabinoids from the plant by friction or using a solvent such as butane. With these THC increases, users are more susceptible to overdosing. There are also higher incidences of accidental ingestion by children since many of these edibles are in the form of sweets, cookies, cakes and candies.

Q: What are kids’ attitudes today about the risks of marijuana?
A: Kids falsely believe that edibles are fun and exciting. They seem less harmful to kids because they taste like a special treat or dessert. With the legalization movement in some states, many kids misconstrue the risks involved with recreational marijuana. Our federal law, however, considers marijuana a dangerous illegal drug, and you can be charged with a misdemeanor and pay a fine up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail if found possessing marijuana.

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Q: What consequences can kids face if caught with these edibles?

A: Most school districts have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the possession of drugs on campus. Students can be suspended or expelled for possessing any controlled substance. See federal law consequences above.

Q: What tips do you have for parents who suspect their kids are using edibles, or other drugs?
A: One in six teens who experiment with marijuana become addicted. It also increases their probability of becoming addicted to other illicit drugs.  It is important for parents to create and maintain a clear zero tolerance rule for any drug use. Boundaries help teenagers make better decisions and reinforce acceptable behaviors. Above all, communication is key. Be involved with your teen and his activities and get to know his friends. Help to provide a safe and fun environment.

Learn more about drug prevention education, including upcoming community presentations.

Or, call the Drug Use Is Life Abuse program at 714-647-4133.

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