Roanoke Valley prevention specialists concerned about marijuana legalization’s possible impact on youth

Experts fear marijuana edibles and dab pens could end up in the wrong hands
From gummies to dab pens, it's easy to hide marijuana products, and there are concerns that they could end up in the hands of children
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:12 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -Marijuana potency is reaching new heights. It’s up from about 4% THC in the 1980s and ’90s to an average of nearly 16% today.

Jenna McCarthy is interning with the Prevention Council of Roanoke County, and has done a lot of research on marijuana’s impacts on young people.

Among her concerns, the potential for marijuana in food items getting into the hands of children.

“Gummy bears are often vitamins. But here if they have THC or CBD in them, then it’s basically a marijuana product. And if it’s a gummy bear, then it’s still targeting youth.” says McCarthy.

Despite changes in marijuana laws, McCarthy says THC, the chemical that gives smokers the high, is especially dangerous to developing brains.

“It can lead to impairment of attention, memory and learning,” she says.

The Prevention Council is working to bring continued awareness about pot’s effects on kids and adolescents, as well as awareness about new ways of using it-- like dabbing.

“There are now dab pens, just like vape pens. And you can vape anything. So, the dabbing is the highest concentrate. The oil, the highest concentrate of marijuana,” says Prevention Council Executive Director Nancy Hans.

With dab pens, Hans says it’s also harder to tell what’s inside them.

Marijuana is sometimes shipped with the potentially deadly drug, Fentanyl.

Experts say staying aware of these trends is the best line of defense for parents, and so is talking to your kids.

“So, there’s tons and tons of education we want to do and help parents and teachers, anyone to start this conversation,” says Hans.

The Prevention Council is hosting an upcoming education seminar for women to learn more about marijuana legalization:

Women Conversations: “An Event for Women by Women”

Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. are encouraged to attend.

Its happening Monday, August 2 at 7:30 pm via Zoom, and you’re asked to register in advance here:

You can read more marijuana research, by clicking this link.

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