The group representing the nation's pediatricians issued a statement this week opposing the legalization of marijuana.
The drug can be harmful to adolescent health and development, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The group said it supports the compassionate use of marijuana for some children who suffer from debilitating or terminal illnesses, HealthDay reports. The AAP also supports decriminalizing marijuana, in conjunction with programs designed to prevent marijuana use and to provide early treatment for adolescents with marijuana use problems.
The AAP noted marijuana can cause memory and concentration problems that may lead to difficulties in school. Marijuana can impair motor control, coordination and judgment, leading to an increased risk of accidental injury and death, the group stated in a news release. Regular marijuana use is also associated with psychological problems, worse lung health, and an increased risk of drug dependence in adulthood, the AAP said.
The group expressed concern about legalization of marijuana and its effect on teens. "Making it more available to adults — even if restrictions are in place — will increase the access for teens," said Dr. Seth Ammerman, a member of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse and an author of the policy statement. "Just the campaigns to legalize marijuana can have the effect of persuading adolescents that marijuana is not dangerous, which can have a devastating impact on their lifelong health and development."
The AAP said it opposes medical marijuana "outside of the usual process by the Food and Drug Administration to approve pharmaceutical products." It noted there has been little research on medical marijuana for adults, and there have been no published studies on marijuana involving children. The group supports further study of marijuana for medical conditions.