Kids Treated for Marijuana Addiction Reaches Record High in United Kingdom

By Victoria Kim 06/27/14

Even though weed remains illegal in the UK, teens are using it now more than ever.

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A record number of children are being treated for addiction to marijuana, according to statistics compiled by Public Health England.

Last year, a total of 13,581 youth under age 18 received medical treatment for drug addiction, citing marijuana as their main problem drug. The number marks a 50% increase over seven years, and includes 200 children age 12 or below.

Steve Rolles, a senior policy analyst with Transform, an organization which campaigns for the legal, regulated sale of marijuana with strict regulation to prevent children from accessing it, noted that the average age of first use has been falling over the past decade.

“That’s a concern because the earlier you start using, the greater the risk,” he said. “If you are 12, 13 or 14, the risks are much greater than if you start when you’re, say, over 20.”

A regulated market, rather than a system of prohibition, would be more effective in keeping the drug away from children. “There’s a strong argument that a strictly regulated market, where we can control age access and potency, would be more effective at protecting young people than under the unregulated criminal trade we have now,” he said.

Some blame the popularity of high potency “skunk” for the record high figure. A spokesman for the Cannabis Skunk Sense charity told The Sun, “It’s a scandal that the public isn’t being told the truth about the strength of skunk, which has an alarming 80% of the market. One in six teens who try cannabis become addicted and skunk users are seven times more likely to suffer a psychotic episode.”

Public Health England also told The Sun that “stronger cannabis strains may be causing more problems.” Meanwhile, the number of youth being treated for alcoholism fell by 29% in a year.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr