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420: What you need to know for April 20

Ottawa County Department of Public Health • Apr 20, 2019 at 9:00 AM

April 20 (4/20 or 420) has become a popular date among recreational marijuana users, where people who smoke marijuana tend to smoke more than usual. It started because 420 is the police code for marijuana smoking in progress. 

With today being the first 420 in Michigan since recreation use became legal, it is important to keep safety and legality in mind.

What is illegal:

• It is illegal to use marijuana in any public space.

• It is illegal to possess or use recreational marijuana for people younger than the age of 21.

• It is illegal for someone to give marijuana to people younger than 21.

• It is illegal to drive or operate a motor vehicle, including boats and ORVs, under the influence of marijuana. A third of impaired driving incidents can be traced to marijuana, according to Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

It is always best to have a designated driver who will remain completely sober, or use a taxi or other ride service. Marijuana impairs psychomotor performance, which can limit movement and coordination, manipulation and dexterity, grace, strength, and speed — all of which are related to driving.

"The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office is committed to combat drugged driving by taking a zero-tolerance approach in our enforcement efforts,” said Sgt. Mike VandenBosch of the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Services Unit. “This effort will be emphasized this weekend. Deputies will be on the lookout for impaired drivers, which includes drivers who use marijuana. The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office has a number of deputies who have been trained to look for, process and arrest drivers who are impaired by drugs.”

VandenBosch reminds drivers that “if you feel different, you drive different."

Marijuana use by teens:

• Using marijuana during adolescence will interfere with brain development, doubling the risk of depression or bipolar disorder and quadrupling the risk of developing psychosis (hallucinations, schizophrenia, angry outbursts).

• Today’s marijuana has 217 percent more potency than in 1995, which contributes to the increased likelihood of developing psychosis.

• 1 in 6 teens who use marijuana become addicted.

• Long-term consistent use (at least one time per week and compared with non-users) decreases likelihood of earning a college degree, decreases income, increases dependency on welfare and increases rate of unemployment.

• Concentrated marijuana edibles, oils and waxes are 50-90 percent THC. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

“Our goal is to ensure that people have the tools that they need in order to make informed and responsible decisions,” said Becky Young, the health promotion supervisor for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. “Marijuana is a drug that causes impairment and it is very dangerous for teens and young adults.

“Parents can and do have a huge influence in the decisions that their kids make,” she continued. “We encourage parents to talk to their kids about marijuana use and the potential consequences to their health, if they were to use it. For tips and resources to help with those conversations, parents can visit www.talksooner.org.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, with approximately 22.2 million users each month.

• Research shows that about 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.

• Marijuana use directly affects the brain — specifically the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time. Developing brains, like those in babies, children, and teens, are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of marijuana.

• Eating foods or drinking beverages that contain marijuana have some different risks than smoking marijuana, including a greater risk of poisoning.

• Long-term or frequent marijuana use has been linked to increased risk of psychosis or schizophrenia in some users.

• Using marijuana during pregnancy may increase the baby’s risk for developmental problems.

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