A simple guide to cannabis use for teens

Published Sep 3, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

The world is an exciting place to explore when you’re a teenager, as there is so much that is yet to be experienced, but there are some things that are best left until the appropriate time, and one of them is using cannabis. At the beginning of high school, it’s really easy to get caught up in what everybody around you is doing, and chances are pretty good that even if you haven't already, you will eventually run into someone who is smoking weed that likely shouldn’t be.

It could be a teacher on break or a fellow classmate just out of sight, and no matter how this early encounter goes down, it’s going to leave you with a whole bunch of questions about cannabis. Is smoking weed such a great idea, and if it isn’t, then why? This is a common reaction to something that is so sensationalized by consumers and the media, especially when you aren’t getting clear information, and it’s why we wanted to put together this easy to follow guide for teenagers.

Here, we will do our best to explain what cannabis is, what it does, how it’s used, why you might want to wait until you’re a little bit older to try it, and some of the adverse effects that can go along with ignoring this essential advice.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis, aka weed or grass, is a natural plant that produces hundreds of different elements like cannabinoids and terpenes. It is generally considered to be a drug, but more recently, the marijuana plant has been hailed for its medicinal qualities that help patients and consumers all over the world.

What does cannabis do?

Every strain of marijuana plant differs slightly from the next, which is why every cannabis product will offer slightly different types of effects. Some cannabis flowers are full of CBD which won’t get you high, but it works great for treating medical conditions like inflammation, and others pack a more powerful punch with the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC.

It is, however, important to note that THC alone is strong enough to cause hallucinations, as one might assume from the term psychoactive. The effects of each cannabis product for every person is slightly different based on numerous factors such as how it’s taken or an individual’s tolerance level which is something that is built up through exposure, and that is why it is more important to understand why people use it, rather than what you could expect from doing so.

Cannabis uses

People use marijuana plant products for all different kinds of reasons, and though the most common is to relax and enjoy a stereotypical “high”, many rely on the natural benefits of the plant to increase their quality of life. Cannabis uses can range from soothing anxiety and stress to reducing pain or seizures, in people with certain types of medical conditions.

There is absolutely no way to know for sure why someone chooses to use cannabis unless they tell you, and this is an important thing to keep in mind so that you aren’t tempted to paint all cannabis consumers with the same brush, as people from all different walks of life enjoy its benefits. Now, we realize that most of what we have said so far sounds great, which is why our next topic at hand, is why you should wait to try it.

Why you shouldn’t start smoking weed until you’re of legal age

Being a teenager is a stressful business, and we get it, as it wasn’t that long ago that we sat right where you are today, but it’s important to recognize the dangers and potential fallout that can come from using cannabis before you are of legal age. Smoking weed isn’t all relaxation and bouts of giggles, especially when you’re a teenager with a brain that is still developing.

There has been some scientific evidence to date that shows a correlation between youth that use cannabis, and potentially adverse effect, like difficulty forming short term memories, and even an IQ drop when the results are compared against non-users. Aside from the potential mental health consequences, it is illegal, which means you and whoever you get it from can get in a whole lot of trouble, that could follow you for the rest of your life, so no matter how you look at it, it’s worth waiting for a few more years.

How and where to get help or find information

If you or someone that you know is experiencing a cannabis-related crisis or has some questions that need answers, then an excellent resource for information is Kids Help Phone, who offers services all over the world 24 hours a day 7 days per week. Whether you just need someone to talk to or you want to read up on the latest scientific research on youth and cannabis, they’ve got you covered, and they offer complete discretion, so you don’t have to worry about facing any kind of repercussions for reaching out.

The stigma around cannabis and kids has a high cost for some youth

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