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There are many reasons why teens choose to use marijuana. Some may see family members or friends using marijuana; others may feel pressured or are curious about the drug. Some younger children may become curious about marijuana when they see “Pothead Lollipops” and “Pothead Ring Pots” in convenience stores or online.

“Pothead Lollipops” and “Pothead Ring Pots” are sour apple flavored candies that are shaped like leaves from a marijuana plant and could attract the attention of younger children. The candy comes in a bag depicting a cartoon character smoking a joint and forming a peace sign with his fingers and the word “legalize” printed beside the pot-smoking character. Many critics believe the cartoon image will attract younger children and encourage them to try the real thing. The manufacturer of the candy, Kalan LP, has reported the candy is intended to promote the legalization of marijuana.

The controversy over the legalization of marijuana continues in most states. Proponents have said that marijuana is just as safe as tobacco and alcohol, which are both legal substances in the United States. But many studies have shown that marijuana can have even more harmful long-term health effects than tobacco and can be just as dangerous for drivers as those who drive under the influence of alcohol.

Marijuana smokers could be at higher risk of cancer than tobacco smokers. According to the U.S. Department of Health, marijuana smoke can contain more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco smoke. Some studies have shown that someone who smokes four to five joints a day may be exposed to as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes an entire pack of cigarettes in a day. Other studies have shown long term use of marijuana can have a negative effect on the male reproductive system.

Marijuana also has adverse effects on many skills needed to operate a motor vehicle. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 34- percent of drivers who were admitted to a Maryland hospital due to injuries from a motor vehicle crash tested positive for marijuana, compared to 16 percent testing positive for alcohol only. Another study found that the “at fault” driver in 3,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes tested positive for marijuana.

The controversy over legalizing marijuana will probably continue for many years and children will certainly ask questions. Parents should talk about the harmful effects of marijuana when they talk to their children about the risks of using tobacco and alcohol. Educate yourself and your children about the risks of marijuana and help keep our kids safe.

Keeping Our Kids Safe is brought to you by the Delaware Police Department and School Resource Officer Rod Glazer.

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