Marijuana Update: Legalization Support and Teen Use Trending Up

From board rooms to family rooms, marijuana legalization continues to be a hot topic due largely to rapidly changing attitudes toward marijuana in the United States. According to a new 2015 Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans (58%) say marijuana use should be legal.

Young Americans have always shown the most support of any age group for making marijuana legal, but this number has grown form 20% in 1969 to 71% currently.

marijuana-legalization-support

Marijuana Legalization Support Trending Up: Young Americans have always shown the most support of any age group for making marijuana legal, but this number has grown from 20% in 1969 to 71% currently.

According to a new 2015 Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans (58%) say marijuana use should be legal.

To counter the hype, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers continue to carry out a marijuana awareness effort to educate affiliated professionals, as well as consumers, on why it’s important not to minimize the effects of marijuana use. With marijuana in the headlines nearly every day, it is important to separate the fact from the myths of this extremely popular drug.

Interested in learning how marijuana use impacts brain function and can lead to addiction? Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers recently published a free guide available for download at RecoverGateway.org/MarijuanaFacts.

Teen Use Trending Up

Marijuana use continues to exceed cigarette use among high school seniors. In 2015, 21.3% of high schools seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days compared with 11.4% who smoked cigarettes. In 2015, for the first time, daily cigarette use was lower than daily marijuana use. Moreover, 79.5% of high school seniors say it is easy to get marijuana.

Treatment for Marijuana Use
At Gateway Treatment Centers, we offer customized treatment plans for people who abuse marijuana as well as alcohol and other drugs. Our highly qualified substance abuse specialists provide the counseling and skills people need to help rebuild positive connections, improve relationships and identify the triggers that lead to excessive, extended use of a drug like marijuana.

If you know someone that you think may be struggling with marijuana use, visit RecoverGateway.org to access free information on prevention and treatment options in Swansea, Illinois. For a free, confidential consultation call our 24/7 helpline at 877-505-HOPE (4673). With more than 45 years of experience treating teens and adults, Gateway is here to help.

Red Ribbon Week Reminder: Teen Marijuana Use Opens Door to Addiction

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States. Prior to 2007, marijuana use was on the decline however, since then, use of marijuana has increased. It was actually the most frequently identified drug seized in the St. Louis metro area in early to mid 2013.

marijuana use, gateway treatment centersThe growing belief that marijuana is a safe drug may be the result of public discussions about medical marijuana and the public debate over the drug’s legal status. Some naively assume marijuana cannot be harmful because it is “natural” but not all natural plants are good for you—take tobacco, for example.

Likewise, young people are less likely to disapprove of regular marijuana use, which indicates warnings regarding the risks associated with teen marijuana use have fallen on teens’ deaf ears. In fact, in the past 10 years the number of high schoolers who think regular marijuana use is risky has dropped dramatically according to 2013 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey. The change in attitudes is reflected by increasing rates of marijuana use among high schoolers. From 2008 to 2013, past-month use of marijuana increased:

  • From 13.8% to 18.0% among 10th graders.
  • From 19.4% to 22.7% among 12th graders.

The naked truth is teens using marijuana expose themselves to changes in brain chemistry, which can result in learning, memory problems and IQ loss. Another valid concern is that, contrary to common belief, marijuana can be addictive. In fact, marijuana addiction results in the withdrawal and craving symptoms that are at the root of addictive disorders. With the legalization of medical marijuana in Illinois this only supports the notion to teens throughout the St. Louis metro east area that smoking pot is not really bad for you.

About 1 in 10 people who try marijuana will become addicted to it. But here’s the kicker: The addiction rate jumps to about 1 in 6 among people who start using marijuana as teenagers, and up to 1 in 2 among daily users!

Oftentimes, even before parents, teens are the first to realize when friends use drugs. In honor of Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 23-30, 2014, I can offer tips for drama-free teen-to-teen interventions:

  • Simply telling a friend you’re concerned about drug and/or alcohol use can be a big help. Let your friend you’re worried their slipping grades and behavioral changes are related to drug abuse
  • Don’t be hurt if your concerns are dismissed as the effects of drug use may prevent your friend from “hearing” you or acting on your concerns.
  • Understand that it is never easy for anyone to admit that they have a drug problem.
  • Assure your friend that he/she is not alone no matter what. People with drug problems may hang out with the wrong crowd—and they don’t want to turn away from these so-called friends for fear of being alone.
  • Listen, encourage, share and support.
  • Read more tips for talking to teens about substance abuse > 
Gateway Treatment Centers Swansea

Article By: Mike Feaman, Program Director, Gateway Swansea

If a friend has been using drugs or alcohol for an extended period of time, it’s important to understand that addiction is a brain disease. Just like you wouldn’t expect someone with cancer to be able to recover without the help of a doctor, the right treatment and support from family and friends—you can’t expect your friends to heal themselves. If the problem appears to be too big for you to handle alone, turn to a school counselor or a responsible adult to get your friend help. I urge you to take this opportunity during Red Ribbon Week to talk to your friends and family about how to prevent substance abuse or get treatment if someone may need help.

 For more resources regarding marijuana use and its effect on brain chemistry, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Marijuana.

 

Illinois Marijuana Laws: Part 1

marijana laws, gateway treatment centersILLINOIS MARIJUANA LAWS AND FEDERAL MARIJUANA LAWS

While marijuana possession remains illegal under federal law, as of March 2014, approximately 15 to 20 states have legalized medical marijuana possession. Currently Illinois and Michigan are the only two Midwestern states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Colorado and Washington have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Despite these changes in public opinion, marijuana possession is still a crime in Illinois. Illinois marijuana laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold.

MARIJUANA AND DRIVING: DUI

Having marijuana or THC in your system is not a crime in and of itself. However, there are local ordinances in some places regarding being “intoxicated” in public, or in the roadway. Also, if you drive with THC in your system, whether or not you are actually impaired, you are committing a DUI.

Penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois vary according to whether it’s a first or subsequent conviction:

  •  First conviction: A first conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Second conviction: A violation is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a mandatory minimum of five days (and up to one year) in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and 240 hours of community service.
  •  Third and fourth convictions: A third or fourth violation is a class 2 felony, punishable with between three and 7 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.

ILLINOIS MARIJUANA LAWS

The penalties for violating marijuana laws are all laid out in two sections of the Cannabis Control Act: 720 ILCS 550/4 and 720 ILCS 550/5.

Illinois marijuana laws focus on:

  • Quantity.
  • Personal possession vs. Intent to distribute.

Generally the more marijuana you have, the more serious the crime. And if you are in possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, it is treated as a more serious crime.  Even sentences that don’t involve serving time for marijuana possession can include steep fines AND legal fees, classes or drug treatment, random drug tests and community service.

Also keep in mind, the crime is not just possession of marijuana, but possession of a substance containing cannabis. This means that if you use a misdemeanor amount of cannabis to make a pan of marijuana brownies, you are now in possession of a much heavier substance containing cannabis, and could be charged with a felony!

For more information on marijuana, visit RecoverGateway.org/marijuana.

If you or someone you know has tried before to stop using marijuana before but couldn’t quit, Gateway can help get life back on track. To arrange a free, confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Pilot Program Act

On August 2, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act and as of January 1, 2014, the Act established a four-year pilot program in Illinois that authorizes the cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis for the use of registered qualifying patients (RQPs). These patients are those who have certain specified debilitating medical conditionsand obtain state registration cards.

medical marijuanaDebilitating medical conditions include 40 chronic diseases and conditions that include:

  • Cancer
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Severe fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Are “medical” and “street” marijuana different?
In principle, no. Most marijuana sold in dispensaries as medicine is the same quality and carries the same health risks as marijuana sold on the street.

However, given the therapeutic interest in cannabidiol (CBD) to treat certain conditions, such as childhood epilepsy, strains with a higher than normal CBD:THC ratio have been specially bred and sold for medicinal purposes; these may be less desirable to recreational users because they have weaker psychoactive effects.

Cannabinoids in medicine
Cannabis has been used medically for thousands of years. In 2700 BCE, Shen Neng, Chinese Emperor and father of Chinese medicine, used cannabis as a remedy. The Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text, also mentions cannabis. It was written in 1500 BCE and is one of the oldest pharmaceutical works known.

Two FDA-approved drugs, Dronabinol and Nabilone, contain THC and are used to treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and wasting disease (extreme weight loss) caused by AIDS.

For more information about marijuana, please visit RecoverGateway.org/Marijuana.

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