News / Calgary

Marijuana dependency increasingly concerning for Calgary youth rehab clinic

Researcher says marijuana dependency not as severe as some claim

Kids who wake-and-bake miss classes and end up highly anxious, according to Dr. Jackie Smith with the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre

The Canadian Press

Kids who wake-and-bake miss classes and end up highly anxious, according to Dr. Jackie Smith with the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre

The growth of marijuana dependency is a troubling issue for Calgary’s youth, according to a director at a local clinic. 

“It’s alarming to the point that we’re treating more marijuana dependent youth across North America than any other illicit drug combined,” said Dr. Jackie Smith at the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, adding the majority of her clients are addicted to and dependent on pot.

Smith’s comments come on the heels of Canada’s changing political stance on weed, where Vancouver is selling it through dispensaries and the Liberals promise to legalize it, if elected. 

“It’s just condoned and way more accessible now,” she said, adding kids who wake-and-bake miss classes and end up highly anxious when they don’t do the drug. 

Philippe Lucas, a research scholar with the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC, said marijuana dependency isn’t as severe as some make it out to be.

“It’s short lived,” said Lucas, the lead author in a Sept. 30 study that found medical weed can be a safe and successful substitute for other addictions. 

“Normally, people are able to give up cannabis on their own, compared to severe drugs,”  said Lucas. 

Smith said Lucas’ comments on dependency are like comparing apples to oranges. 

“We’re talking about youth here: their cognitive abilities aren’t as developed as adults,” she said.

Lucas’ study — which surveyed 473 medical pot users — found that 87 per cent said they substitute pot for alcohol, and illegal or prescription drugs.

“Youth still respond differently than adults,” Smith added. “It’s a huge concern.”

Smith said 1 in 6 of young people become dependent on marijuana, while Lucas said 1 in 9 do.

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