To the Editor:
In Sussex County, the Coalition for Healthy & Safe Communities is committed to steadfast prevention efforts to ensure the health and safety of our communities, especially our youth. In Sussex County, 21% of our 12th grade high school students reported using marijuana in the past 30 days in 2019; this was a 24% increase since 2017 (PRIDE, 2019). As the landscape of marijuana has been changing in NJ, it is imperative to address this issue, as availability and perception of harm decreases, use of marijuana increases.
Brain MRI studies now report that in young recreational marijuana users, structural abnormalities in gray matter density, volume, and shape occur in areas of the brain associated with drug craving and dependence. There also were significant abnormality measures associated with increasing drug use behavior. In chronic adolescent users, marijuana’s adverse impact on learning and memory persists long after the acute effects of the drug wear off such as, impaired short-term memory, impaired episodic memory, impaired attention, impaired executive function including difficulty with complex tasks, impaired decision-making and impaired learning, and risk of psychosis in vulnerable individuals. Early use is associated with the most significant impairments. (Source: NIH)
Understanding the science and facts is imperative to keeping our communities healthy & safe. Our village is only as strong as each of its member and we will continue to contribute our ongoing efforts to strengthen our community and help our youth and families thrive.
Coalition Coordinator for Healthy & Safe Communities, Center for Prevention & Counseling