Marijuana: Trends, Science, and Updates 2015

Our most recent community forum on Marijuana: Science, Trends & Updates 2015, was opened with a presentation by prevention colleague and distinguished guest, River Coyote, from the Tahoe-Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence (TTFWDD) Coalition and included the personal story of a local family’s journey using medical marijuana (CBD’s) to treat a child’s devastating illness presented by Kara Fox. The well-rounded presentation focused on the current trends in marijuana use, the tremendous changes we’ve seen with regard to potency, harms of youth recreational use and the potentially devastating impact marijuana has on the developing adolescent brain. .

Marijuana_FTUsing trusted science, River Coyote shared more than 20 years of research focusing specifically on the harms of adolescent marijuana use to help parents and community members become more aware that today’s marijuana has an exponentially higher potency and poses greater health risks: lowered brain functioning, memory loss, drop in IQ and greater risk for overdose and hospitalization. Coyote has a Master’s Degree in Public Health specializing in Substance Abuse Prevention for the last 13 years. She works as a Children’s System of Care (CSOC) Health Educator and is the current Director for the Tahoe Truckee Future Without Drug Dependence working on Teen use of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

With all of the newly passed and coming up legislation, expanding the use of marijuana for medicinal as well as recreational use, parents are experiencing an increasing amount of challenges with having conversations with their youth about the consequences and risks associated with adolescent marijuana use. With permissive attitudes, seemingly social acceptance, and increased access, parental awareness is more crucial than ever. There are great resources available to help parents open and maintain clear lines of communication, a proactive approach, and healthy boundaries around their teens and marijuana use.

In addition to the science and research, parent Kara Fox, shared the touching story of her young son Julian’s journey. Julian was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 6 months old, began experiencing seizures at 4 years old, and was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Kara spoke about Julian’s very delicate and complex Cannabidiol (CBD) treatment and the 10 months of extensive research that was conducted to find the correct therapeutic levels to use medical marijuana. Kara Fox provided additional research that can be found at the (below) links:

What people said about the presentation:
82 % of attendees felt the presentation would be beneficial to share with more community members and felt more confident talking about marijuana and its harms after receiving the information.

91 % of attendees reported that, as a result of attending this presentation, their general knowledge about marijuana and perception of harm from recreational marijuana use by teens increased.

A local school administrator reported, “I need regular and updated data on studies. The cross fires of what is cultural and what is legal in this county is incredibly confusing to adolescents and young adults. The urban myths are hard to combat, as ridiculous as they are. We also need more updated data and info (as it is available) about marijuana usage and pregnancy/fetal development. Being able to quote: ‘We are seeing the cannabinoids jump the placenta barrier and that it shows up in breast milk’ is powerful.”