To The Editor:
Last week, through the combined efforts of the Tewksbury Police, the Tewksbury Board of Health, the Tewksbury Schools, Tewksbury CARES, and many other local organizations, we held our first annual Tewksbury Drug Awareness Week. Right now parents and kids have a special opportunity to talk with each other about drugs.
Knowing the facts is important. Tewksbury CARES, a community coalition dedicated to promoting drug awareness, is focusing here on providing some facts to the parents and children of Tewksbury about the use of marijuana.
It is well known that marijuana is the most widely abused illegal drug among teens, and that more teens now smoke marijuana than tobacco. Marijuana has many adverse health and safety risks – more than people are aware. Here are the facts:
• Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.
• Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Just like drinking and driving, drugged driving is a very serious issue that can have tragic outcomes.
• Marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, contributing to the risk of cancer of the lungs, mouth and tongue.
• In the past 15 years, the potency of Marijuana (THC content) has more than tripled from 3% to more than 11%.
• Approximately 9% (1 in 11) marijuana users become dependent. The earlier young people start using marijuana the more likely they are to be dependent later in life.
• Nation-wide, 6.6% of high school seniors smoke marijuana every day, rendering them unemployable in companies that use routine employee drug screening.
• Rates of teen marijuana use in Massachusetts are 30% higher than the average for the nation.
• Teens that smoke marijuana regularly demonstrate up to an 8-point IQ drop in early adulthood, compared to teens that do not smoke.
In Massachusetts more kids are admitted to treatment for marijuana use than all illegal drugs combined. This startling fact bears repeating. More kids in Massachusetts are admitted to treatment for marijuana use than all illegal drugs combined.
A study published this August by the University of Colorado, a state with legalized medical marijuana, demonstrates that nearly three-quarters of teens in the treatment programs studied, said they have used medical marijuana bought or grown for someone else, meaning “medical” marijuana is indeed being diverted to youth.
Again, parents and children have a chance right now to talk about the facts. An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. Help prevent teen marijuana use. Talk with your kids.
Tewksbury Board of Health