This Parent newsletter has been created by the NK Prevention Coalition.  Parenting IS Prevention.
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Risks of Adolescent Marijuana Use

Be in the KNOW!  With MA legalizing marijuana for recreational use, it is important to stay informed 

Marijuana can be used in different ways, including smoking, vaping, eating as an “edible,” or dabbing, which means smoking or inhaling marijuana in the form of hash oil or wax. The typical percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most active ingredient in marijuana, has increased in marijuana making them more potent.

High amounts of THC can increase the risk for negative effects. The consequences of being exposed to high levels of THC, including addiction, are still not well-understood. 

Using marijuana and alcohol together can be especially unpredictable and harmful  Driving under the influence of marijuana can also lead to injury or death for users and those sharing the road with them.

Health Effects Can Be Long-Term

Researchers are still studying the long-term health effects of marijuana. Most people agree that marijuana use hurts adolescents more than adults. However, anyone who uses marijuana may suffer from negative health effects, such as testicular cancer, heart attacks, respiratory disease, a weakened immune system, pregnancy complications and low birth weight. Marijuana use also is linked with cognitive problems; low academic achievement; impaired social functioning; and mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. 

Brain Development 

A fair amount of research shows marijuana can have negative effects for adolescents. Such effects can include:

  • Changes to the brain’s structure  
  • Lower quality of brain connections
  • Less blood flow to parts of the brain1

These changes may hurt brain functioning in adolescents. Marijuana use has been linked to lower IQ scores as well as poorer memory and attention. 

Scientists still have many questions about how marijuana affects the brain long-term. Factors that can shape marijuana’s effects on the brain include when someone starts using marijuana, how often they use it, and whether they use other substances at the same time. 

The brains of young people grow and are formed up through their mid-20s. It is important to protect those brains by preventing exposure to substances that could harm them.   


Marijuana can be addictive. Nearly one in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. Signs that someone might be addicted include being unable to stop using marijuana, using it even though they know it is causing problems, and using marijuana instead of joining important activities with friends and family. People who frequently use marijuana often report withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include being irritable or restless, having a small appetite, experiencing cravings, and problems with mood and sleep. 

Starting to use marijuana at a younger age can lead to a greater risk of developing a substance use disorder later in life. Adolescents who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.3

Legal Status of Marijuana

Marijuana is illegal under federal law. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana - PDF

State laws vary exit disclaimer icon and are subject to change, but as of August 2017, people under the age of 21 cannot buy recreational marijuana, and people over 21 cannot give marijuana to people under 21. The most recent research suggests that, to date, states with medical marijuana laws have not seen an increase in adolescent use.4-7

MORE here: When Adolescents Give up Pot, Their Cognition Quickly Improves.

In the news....

Family Check Up:  Could Your Kids Be at Risk for Substance Use?

Families strive to find the best ways to raise their children to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.  Parents are often concerned about whether their children will start or are already using drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and others, including the misuse of prescription drugs.  Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the important role that parents play in preventing their children from starting to use drugs.

This is the 3rd in our five part series.  This newsletter will focus on:

Question 3: Negotiation

Are you able to negotiate emotional conflicts with your teenager and work toward a solution?

Negotiating solutions offers parents a way to work together to solve problems; make changes; promote and improve cooperation; and teach youth how to focus on solutions rather than problems, think through possible outcomes of behavior, and develop communication skills.

Destructive Behavior and Negotiation

  • Negative example: Dad gets angry
  • Positive example: Dad stays calm

Set Up for Success


  • Select an unemotional or regularly scheduled time (not in the middle of a problem).


  • Choose a neutral place with few distractions.


  • Choose problems that are small and specific.
  • State the problem neutrally.
  • Recognize the other person’s positive behavior.
  • Accept part of the responsibility for the problem.
  • Restate what you hear, show understanding, and stop if you get too upset.

The Steps to Problem-Solving

Problem-Solving Traps

  • Don’t try to solve hot issues.
  • Don’t blame the other person or put the other person down.
  • Don’t defend yourself—try to let it go.
  • Don’t make assumptions about another person’s intentions.  
  • Don’t bring up the past—avoid using words such as “always” and “never.”
  • Don’t lecture—a simple statement will get your point across better.

Brainstorm—open your mind to all ideas:

  • Try to come up with three ideas each.
  • Any idea is good—even ones that seem silly.
  • Take turns coming up with ideas.

Evaluate your list of ideas:

  • Go through and list the pluses and minuses of each idea.

Choose a solution:

  • Combine ideas if needed.
  • All of you should agree on the chosen solution.

Follow Up

  • Check in with each other after you have tried your solution a couple of times to see how it is working.
  • If it isn’t working, go back to your list of ideas.
  • If necessary, start over with some more brainstorming.

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Yes! - It's that Stressful Time of Year!
Stay Healthy with These Tips

Stick with Your Daily Routine

Prioritize your workouts, book club, etc., and don't try to squeeze in more holiday than you can handle

Don't Neglect Whatever Cracks You Up

Laughing like crazy reduces stress hormones. That, in turn, helps immune cells function better

Forget Perfection

Stop obsessing over doing it all. The world is not going to end if the house is a little cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life. Don't sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable!

Savor a Spicy Meal

Hot foods trigger the release of endorphins—the natural chemicals that trigger feelings of euphoria and well-being

Turn Up the Tunes!

Anxious? Listen to your favorite music, whether it's Jingle Bell Rock or the latest from Jay-Z. Research from the University of Maryland shows that hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. That not only calms you down but is good for your heart, too.

The fleshy place between your index finger and thumb is called the hoku spot in traditional Chinese medicine. Applying firm pressure there for just 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body. So if you start to feel overwhelmed by the holiday chaos, give your hand a squeeze and take a deep breathe.

Here are some Top Ten Stress Busters for Teens 
  1. Eat Healthy
  2. Sleep
  3. Get Moving
  4. Me Time
  5. Friend Time
  6. Find Balance
  7. Go Outside
  8. Take a Breath
  9. Find Your Sense of Humor
Building Grit!
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North Kingstown Prevention Coalition · 300 Centerville Road · Warwick, Ri 02886 · USA

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