US kids shun alcohol for edible marijuana, reveals 20 year study


New York, Dec 5 : Children in the US are ditching alcohol for marijuana as a 20-year national study shows a massive 245 per cent increase in adolescent cannabis abuse, while alcohol abuse has steadily declined over the same period. While rates of all marijuana abuse increased, edible marijuana showed the highest average monthly increase compared with all other forms, suggesting that adolescents have moved away from smoking weed onto alternative modes of consumption. The majority of ingestions occurred in males (58.3 per cent), and more than 80 per cent of all reported exposure cases occurred in young people aged 13 to 18, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology. The study found over 338,000 instances of intentional abuse or misuse among American children aged 6-18. In total, over 32 per cent of instances resulted in "worse than minor clinical outcomes". "Ethanol abuse cases exceeded the number of marijuana cases every year from 2000 until 2013," said Adrienne Hughes, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. However, by 2014 this trend had reversed. "Since 2014, marijuana exposure cases have exceeded ethanol cases every year, and by a greater amount each year than the prior," Hughes added. Experts attribute the rise in marijuana use to the increased popularity of edible cannabis products, now widely available across the country. While rates of all marijuana abuse increased, edible marijuana showed the highest average monthly increase compared with all other forms, suggesting that adolescents have moved away from smoking weed onto alternative modes of consumption. Marijuana extracts, such as those used in cannabis vaping products, were also increasingly popular. "These edible and vaping products are often marketed in ways that are attractive to young people, and they are considered more discrete and convenient," Hughes noted. However, although they may be perceived as less harmful, studies show this is not the case. "Compared to smoking cannabis, which typically results in an immediate high, intoxication from edible forms of marijuana usually takes several hours, which may lead some individuals to consume greater amounts and experience unexpected and unpredictable highs," Hughes emphasised. As of 2022, cannabis is legal for adult recreational use in 19 states and for medical use in 36 states. While cannabis is only legal for adults and not children, it has rendered the drug more accessible to children and adolescents and contributed to a perception that the drug is safe. Deaths from drug abuse were rare, occurring in 450 young people. Deaths were more common in males, and in older teens aged 16-18. They were also most likely to occur after abusing opioids. "And, although there were 57,488 incidents involving children aged just 6 to twelve, these cases did not usually include 'traditional' drugs but rather vitamins, plants, melatonin, hand sanitizers and other objects," said the authors. /IANS




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