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Risks of high-potency marijuana in kids and teens

On Monday at 7 p.m., Yarmouth High School will host a panel with experts to discuss the topic. The event is open to the public.

MAINE, Maine — On Monday at 7 p.m., a group of experts, including S.E.E.D. members, will gather as part of a panel to discuss and better understand the risks of high-potency marijuana in kids and teens.

"Over time the potency of weed products has grown. It has gone from 2 percent to 30 percent by weight. That's tremendous," Dr. Jeff Barkin said. "Kids are vaping, they are using edibles, which is pure TCH, [and] as a result, early-aged kids are being exposed."

An increasing trend, Dr. Barkin, a psychiatrist and immediate past president of the Maine Medical Association, said it is concerning.

"We are beginning to understand some of the harms, and the concerns that I have, that the medical community has, is an eight-point decline in IQ, in kids who are young who are heavy cannabis users, relative to those who don't, and an increased risk in the development of psychosis, an inability to tell what is real," Barkin added.

S.E.E.D. (Students Empowered to End Dependency), a teen-based initiative, is hosting a panel of experts at the Yarmouth...

Posted by U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maine on Friday, January 6, 2023

The conversation open to the public at Yarmouth High School on Monday night will focus on the risks of high-dose THCvaping, edibles, highly concentrated flower, etc.on the developing brain and negative impacts on kids, including cannabis-induced psychosis, which can transition into schizophrenia in at-risk kids.

"As our children develop, our brain cells make connections, [and] THC interrupts those pathways. So, it changes development. It may lead to these changes in intellectual function, but also withdrawals. Kids may be more prone to isolate, to socialize. Parents need to know that," Barkin explained.

Dr. Barkin said the difference between THC and CBD is that THC is what will cause a person to experience a high.

Just recently in the Journal of Pediatrics, a report showed an over 1300 percent increase in exposure to cannabis edibles in kids under the age of five between 2017 and 2021.

Dr. Barkin said there is a tremendous increase in accidental exposure to edibles in kids six years or younger.

"My message to parents is just like with other medications, keep your edibles safe, keep them locked up, keep them away from your kids," Barkin said.

Posted by Jeffrey Barkin on Monday, January 9, 2023

Madison Friend lives in a sober house. She is another panelist who will speak about her personal experiences with the use of high-potency weed while in high school. Friend said she used to smoke and become high just about all day, every day. It got to the point where she couldn't focus or would get a lot of anxiety and stress from that state, and she started to use other drugs. 

Now, she is helping other kids and teens by sharing her story and talking to them eye-to-eye about the real risks through classroom sessions and candid conversations.

The S.E.E.D. Understanding High-Potency Marijuana panel will take place at the Yarmouth High School Performing Arts Center on Monday at 7 p.m.

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