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What the legalization of marijuana has meant for children

The danger marijuana poses to children is often overlooked because the children aren't using the drug. However, children are being put in harm's way because of their proximity to marijuana.
Emily Hales, Deseret News Modified: May 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm •  Published: May 28, 2014

Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012, the increase in the small number of children admitted to local hospitals for marijuana-related symptoms shows youth will not be unscathed by the change.

Nine children have been admitted to Children's Hospital Colorado for accidentally ingesting marijuana, which is already one more than the total for last year.

Of the nine children who have been admitted in 2014, "seven were admitted to the hospital's intensive-care unit, most commonly for what was either extreme sedation or agitation. One of those kids had breathing problems that required a respirator," Michael DiStefano, the medical director of the Children's Hospital Colorado emergency department, told The Denver Post.

While the number is relatively small compared to the overall number of patients at the hospital, it is an increase from earlier years.

"Between 2005 and 2013, only eight children were admitted at the hospital for unintentional marijuana ingestion," DiStefano told the Post.

The legal age to use marijuana is 21 in both Colorado and Washington.

The culture surrounding marijuana has changed over the last few years. Marijuana use is becoming "less and less stigmatized," according to Time. President Barack Obama is in favor of legalization, and marijuana use is seen as no more harmful than drinking alcohol.

However, research has found that marijuana use has negative effects on teenagers, and is particularly damaging to the memory centers of the brain, according to Schizophrenia Bulletin.

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