With teen cannabis use rising, Vermont experts worry about dangers of potency

Local News

A recent survey found that cannabis use among teenagers is increasing, while alcohol and tobacco use are down.

The 2019 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey found an increase in teens using cannabis. University of Vermont Medical Center Child Psychiatrist Dr. David Rettew said we are moving further away from it being a natural product. 

“People are using much higher potency products, and it does look like these products that are 60, 70, 80% THC, carry additional risks,” Rettew said. 

Rettew added, “There is more and more evidence that cannabis use is related to the development of sycosis, psychotic disorders, depression, suicide and worse anxiety.”

Rettew said he believes marketing is leading young people to perceive marijuana as safe and healthy.

“I sometimes say it’s not the most dangerous substance on earth, but I can’t think of anything else where there is a bigger difference between the perceived danger and the actual danger,” Dr. Rettew said. 

Mariah Flynn Sanderson, director of the Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community, said the earlier people start using, the worse the outcomes are.

“So, we know that 90% of the people that develop a substance use disorder, started using before the age of 18,” Sanderson said.

Vermont legalized adult possession and use in 2018. Sanderson believes as a society we need to think of ways we can delay all types of substance use. “The more that we talk about it, the more that we normalize it,” Sanderson said.

“The more kids see adults using, the more likely they are to start using.” 

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