SEATTLE — With recreational pot stores opening Tuesday, health experts and school administrators say marijuana will become more accessible to young kids.
Even before the shops open, Seattle schools have reported seeing more and more cases of pot use on school grounds.
Recreational pot is only legal if you are 21 and over but that rule is lost on many kids. Seattle school officials say high school students are telling them that it is much easier to get marijuana than alcohol.
“They are seeing marijuana as less risky and they don’t see the consequences of marijuana,” Lisa Sharp, of Seattle Public Schools, said.
Since legalization, Seattle public schools says they’ve not only seen a spike in pot use but in new products they have never seen before, like Vape pens laced with THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient.
“I have never heard of that; I can’t see how that would work,” parent Shelly Tiemeyer said.
Another problem is marijuana edibles.
“We’ve seen a lot more of the edibles on our campus and not just home-baked brownies. What we are seeing is candy bars, lollipops, things that are purchased rather than made at home,” Sharp said.
Marijuana edibles are not approved for sale yet in Washington state.
A lot of edibles look harmless. But a candy bar could have 100 milligrams of THC, which is equivalent to 10 servings or doses of marijuana.
“That surprises me that it has that much,” Tiemeyer said.
Medical experts say edibles pose a big risk to kids because of its hidden dangers.
“You can overdose on marijuana, and the edibles are tricky because you don’t feel the effects. They don’t get that high quickly as when you are smoking it, so what happens is a person will be eating edibles and will have more and more and more.,” Seattle Children’s Dr. Yolanda Evans said.
Evans says kids on average are using pot as young as 13 years old so parents are advised to start the conversation early and do it frequently.
“It’s a parent’s responsibility to reach their children on what is healthy and what the age limit is for certain drugs,” parent Emily Jackson said.
Experts also say pot use among young kids can be detrimental to cognitive development since the brain does not fully develop until the mid-20s.
If a child is using pot, experts say, their behavior could change.
“Maybe their missing school, grades will drop, they seem uncoordinated or have bloodshed eyes,” Evans said.
Other red flags also include wearing clothing that has marijuana on it or getting caught with other drug paraphernalia, like a pipe or bong.