As Germany gears up for the planned legalization of cannabis, a significant number of parents are expressing apprehensions regarding the potential decrease in the inhibition threshold for cannabis consumption among children and adolescents. A Forsa survey, conducted on behalf of Kaufmännische Krankenkasse (KKH) and published on Monday in Hanover, reveals that almost two-thirds (63 percent) of parents with underage children share this concern.
Health implications are a primary worry for parents, with an overwhelming three-quarters (73 percent) expressing concerns about potential brain damage and other physical problems, including dizziness. A similar proportion (70 percent) believes that cannabis consumption could lead to psychological issues such as mood swings or anxiety.
The survey also indicates that more than two-thirds of parents (69 percent) believe that frequent cannabis use could result in addiction among children and young people. Additionally, 64 percent fear that this could lead to a decline in academic performance, while 55 percent are concerned that minors may veer onto an undesirable path. Forsa conducted the survey on behalf of KKH, surveying a thousand parents with underage children across Germany from January 2nd to 16th.
The anticipated legalization of cannabis in Germany is slated to take effect on April 1st. The new regulation allows for the purchase of cannabis to a limited extent, with a maximum of 25 grams per day, through non-commercial associations. However, the possession and consumption of cannabis will remain prohibited for individuals under the age of 18, and up to three plants will be permitted for home cultivation.
KKH data reveals a substantial increase in harmful cannabis use among young people. In the 15 to 24-year-old age group, diagnoses related to acute intoxication, dependence, withdrawal symptoms, or psychological problems due to cannabinoids have increased one and a half times between 2012 and 2022.
Critics of legalization have long highlighted the potential risks of psychosis and other health and psychological issues, particularly for younger individuals. The maturation of the central nervous system and the brain continues until the mid-20s. The earlier, more frequent, and more intensive cannabis consumption occurs, the higher the risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions.
Brain researcher Martin Korte from the Technical University of Braunschweig emphasizes the particular impact of cannabinoids on the frontal lobe, a crucial part of the frontal brain responsible for planning actions, solving problems, and controlling impulses. KKH quotes the researcher as stating, "If young people smoke weed regularly, they risk a reduction in these abilities; they react more impulsively and have difficulty concentrating on a task." Overall, mental performance declines.
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