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Pot Industry Challenges New Report About Youth Use

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DENVER (CBS4) – There are more concerns about the number of children and teens using marijuana in Colorado. In a study just released, Colorado has a higher number of kids and college students using the drug than other states.

The new report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) interviewed 100 Colorado school resource officers about kids and pot.

“Eighty-nine percent of those school resource officers have dealt with at least one incident per week where there is possession or usage issues among youth, and that’s in the high school area,” Kevin Wong with Rocky Mountain HIDTA said.

Intelligence analysts say there’s also a 26 percent increase in monthly usage of children 12 to 17 years old since medical marijuana was commercialized.

The Marijuana Industry Group disagrees, citing stats by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment that claim use among high school students dropped 2 percent.

“The opponents to marijuana reform have been putting out all this hysteria that teen marijuana use is going to explode, and we’re going to have this awful new problem,” Mike Elliot with the Marijuana Industry Group said. “We can all say is we need more studies. It’s tough to say anything conclusive about this because all of our data is limited.”

New, bold ad campaigns by the state and city of Denver say, “Who will be their guinea pigs?” The goal is to discourage kids from using pot. The TV ads along with human-sized rat cages are sending the same message the feds want people to hear — that pot on a growing brain can create problems and it’s not worth the gamble.

One of the human-sized lab rat cages (credit: CBS)

One of the human-sized lab rat cages (credit: CBS)

“It effects their health. Their IQ points take a big hit, dramatic hit, depending on when they start using this substance,” Wong said. “So (it’s important) for parents to educate and to keep their kids away from drugs altogether, especially marijuana. It’s like a gateway drug.”

Rocky Mountain HIDTA also says Colorado hospitals have seen a 57 percent increase in emergency room visits for marijuana-related incidents.

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