In 2018, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that 5.8 percent of 12th graders across the U.S. reported daily use of marijuana, and 22.2 percent of those at the same age more likely smoked pot than cigarettes. These figures are expected to grow amid the increasing interest in the legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis.  

“Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States by teens as well as adults,” NIDA said. “Recent public discussions about medical marijuana and the public debate over the drug’s legal status is leading to a reduced perception of harm among young people.” 

The research institute also noted that it also saw a significant increase in marijuana vaping among teens in the past year. NIDA said the increase in cannabis use could be due to the teens’ belief that the drug cannot be harmful because it is “natural.”

Verywell Mind opined that many teens turn to marijuana to reduce stress and to self-medicate, particularly those trying to cope with depression, anxiety and anger. However, some just use weed out of boredom.

But it is important to know that despite being natural and proven with health benefits, there are still risks in using marijuana at early ages. Some kids who tend to experiment with the drug develop a high risk of addiction. 

Several studies showed that the younger adolescents start to use pot, the more likely they will have drug problems in adulthood, U.S. News reported

Smoking cannabis before age 15 makes boys 68 percent more likely to have a drug problem by age 28, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

“Adolescents who used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or obtain a degree,” NIDA warned. “They also had a much higher chance of developing dependence, using other drugs, and attempting suicide.”

Another study in 2017 suggested that using marijuana at ages 9 to 30 could lead to altered brain development and lower educational attainment and employment.

Knowing the benefits of marijuana and its negative health impacts, parents are advised to guide their children, particularly teens, to avoid health risks in the future.