If you follow news from the State Capitol, you may have seen that Minnesota is discussing the legalization of marijuana.

While it is not feasible in the next few months, it is most certainly a topic that will be discussed in the next session. While many are excited about the potential revenue that cannabis generates, the Scott County Prevention Coalition is greatly troubled by this possibility, for several reasons, all of which impact our youth.

First, marijuana legalization does not mean that only smoking the plant is legal. “Big Marijuana” is highly evolved, and people are no longer only smoking the product for consumption. THC is currently found in many food products, edibles, gummies, inhalers, candy, vape devices, etc. While the bill does not currently allow for many food products, edibles and gummies would be allowed.

Second, the potency of the plant is not what it used to be. During the times of Woodstock, marijuana potency was estimated at roughly 3-5% potency. As it became more popular, “street weed” was estimated at 15-20% THC content (THC is the part of the cannabis plant that is responsible for the “high”).

Currently, the way the plant is harvested and then processed, has created consumables with THC content up to 75-90%. Not only is this level of THC incredibly dangerous, but it is also highly addictive. Research shows that the earlier the consumption starts, the more likely the person is to become addicted, and the more likely their brain is to be negatively impacted, long-term.

For students with developing brains, no amount of THC is safe, and certainly not when ingested at extreme levels. Potency percentages of this magnitude drastically impact memory, judgement, movement, vision and coordination. Research suggests that high THC levels of cannabis use have a strong correlation with psychosis and schizophrenia.

Third, there are three primary strains of THC products: sativa, indica and hybrid. People have the option of selecting which strain of cannabis they consume, based on their desired outcome. Sativa gives you energy, while indica induces sleepiness. The hybrid, of course, does both, over time. These varied options create an even greater dependency, as there is a strain to “help” you achieve your desired outcome each day.

If you desire to learn more about the “Smart Approaches to Marijuana” in Minnesota, please visit sammn.org for more information. If you desire to be a part of the Scott County Prevention Coalition, please contact Lil Pinero at lpinero@co.scott.mn.us. All voices are welcome.

Lilliam Piñero is a prevention specialist who has over 11 years of experience in the substance use disorder prevention field. She facilitates the Scott County Prevention Coalition and works as a Drug Free Communities Grant Coordinator for the Scott County Public Health Department.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.