Marijuana and the Law: Setting the Facts Straight

America is in a stage of transition, uncertainty and polarizing views when it comes to marijuana. Laws differ from state to state, policies regarding medicinal use are confusing and everyone has an opinion on the issue. Teens are in a difficult position, schools maintain a clear abstinence policy following federal law, while it is popular culturally and growing more acceptable as a medical treatment. So what should be done? How can the distinction between medical use and recreational use be clarified? Listed below are some the laws regarding marijuana for 2015 in Michigan:

  • The possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia is a federal offense 
  • The severity of the punishment differs between states and the federal government, and even between cities within a single state- See Michigan’s laws here 
  • For those under 18 the crime is labeled as a Minor in Possession
  • The Michigan Medical Marihuana Program regulates the registration for medical marijuana cards
  • Selling/ distributing medical marijuana is a crime, which according to the Monitoring the Future study, is responsible for 17% of high school students use

Teens need to be aware of the laws regarding marijuana, as well as the scientifically studied effects of the drug. According to research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse , “adolescents who regularly used marijuana had impaired neural connectivity in specific brain regions involved in a broad range of executive functions like memory, learning, and impulse control as compared to non-users”. Many studies have corroborated that marijuana use while the brain is still developing (up to age ~25) hinders the neural refinement of synapses.

One of the largest controversies over the legalization of medical marijuana was that it would increase adolescent use of the drug. Surprisingly, a NIH funded study found that there was no significant increase in teen marijuana usage. So although teens may be procuring medical marijuana illegally, it is the same teens that would have found it off the street. Hopefully this signifies that teens understand the risks of marijuana and are choosing to abstain from the drug. Just because it can be used medicinally marijuana, like all prescription drugs, should not be used unless needed, and then with careful monitoring.

By Corinne Hauck

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