To the Editor:
As Princeton residents and professionals in medical/mental health, we feel it is important to share what we have learned and seen on the job.
I am Sara Popkin, M.D., board certified in adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. Adolescents are highly vulnerable to marijuana’s many known adverse effects. Marijuana’s impact on the cognition, behavior, and brain development of adolescents has both immediate and long-term implications, including lasting decline in intelligence measures; academic failure; an increased incidence of psychotic, mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders; an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents; and sexual victimization. Retail cannabis dispensaries in our town, even if restricted to adults, will be associated with a reduction of adolescent’s perception of marijuana’s harmful effects. In turn, this increases rates of adolescent marijuana use and its associated problems. We must educate youth about the significant harm marijuana can inflict on their developing brains. This will be increasingly difficult if they see it being sold on Nassau Street.
I am Matt Bellace, Ph.D in clinical neuropsychology and national youth drug prevention speaker. I travel the country speaking at schools about substance abuse prevention and mental health. Vaping, especially cannabis, is the number one concern of my clients. As adults, the best thing we can do to reduce teen substance abuse is role model healthy choices. I advocate sharing your natural highs (e.g., running, cooking, meditation) with teens. In addition, we can practice radical honesty. Opening cannabis dispensaries in town will increase the number of people who smoke and walk around. The stink is pervasive and the message to young people is clear, we allowed it. more