Teen Use of Marijuana Edibles: An Emerging Risk


With recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska and pending legislation in other states, the use of marijuana among American teens is becoming a growing health concern.   

There have been recent reports of youth deaths from eating marijuana food products in Colorado: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/third-death-in-colorado-linked-to-edible-marijuana/#.V-REzY-cHIV 

A recent focus group study published in the Journal of Primary Prevention explored edible marijuana use among teens.   

Findings showed some teens mentioned eating marijuana products at school. Youth reported that teens consume edibles, primarily to reduce the likelihood of getting caught. Edibles are also attractive to those who do not like to smoke or have concerns about smoking.  Youth reported they can purchase edibles from other students at school. 

While youth and teachers should be educated about the risks to marijuana edibles, especially in states where they would be more available to youth, we suggest an additional broader and more positive prevention strategy.   

Parents, teachers, coaches, youth leaders, health care providers and others working with young people need easy to use tools to help them communicate messages to youth that promote and link the attainment of future positive behaviors, goals, and images with avoiding marijuana and other substance use. 

For example, Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) provides parent pep talk scripts, teen contracts, and parent-youth flyers that provide brief statements encouraging and connecting participating in sports and physical activities, eating healthy foods, getting adequate sleep, and controlling stress with avoiding drug and alcohol use: http://preventionpluswellness.com/ppw-parent-tools/ 

In addition, PPW prevention programs were developed to effectively prevent marijuana, alcohol and other substance use by triggering positive peer and future desired images of youth and young adults engaged in health and fitness-promoting habits: http://preventionpluswellness.com/ppw-prevention-programs/ 

A comprehensive approach is needed to stunt the growth of all forms of marijuana use among American youth.  This strategy should include providing information about the risks of marijuana products to youth and adults, as well as broader, more positive brief communication unifying prevention with wellness-promotion.  

Read the marijuana edible study abstract here:


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