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Opinions differ on how legalized marijuana in Arizona would affect teenagers

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

PHOENIX — Doctors and nurses gathered in Phoenix on Thursday to voice their opposition to Proposition 205.

The ballot measure, which will go before voters next month, would legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona.

State healthcare leaders are worried about the potential impact legalized pot could have on children and teens. Dr. Stacy Nicholson, physician-in-chief at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said teenage access to marijuana hurts them in the long run.

“The impact of marijuana on adolescents can be profound and will include impairments of memory and concentration which will impact their learning,” Nicholson said. “We know that teenage use of marijuana is associated with an increased risk of drug dependency in adulthood.”

The Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Arizona Nurses Association is also opposed to Prop 205. Dr. Dale Guthrie with Gilbert Pediatrics has concerns about marijuana edibles being available for recreational use.

“These products are marketed as candy, which dramatically increases the risk of accidental ingestion, and is responsible for a marked increase in emergency room visits,” Guthrie said.

Barrett Marson, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and a supporter of Prop. 205, said it will be harder for teenagers to get a hold of marijuana if the ballot measure passes. He said Prop. 205 would reduce the state’s black market when it comes to marijuana.

Legal marijuana sales, like alcohol, would be restricted to those age 21 and up.

“The scare tactics that teen use would all of the sudden skyrocket, because adults are legally allowed to purchase marijuana, is a fallacy,” Marson said.

Marson said if the ballot measure passes, advertising and marketing that appeals to children, like marijuana candy bars, can be restricted.

“Prop. 205 is about regulating and taxing [marijuana], ending the failed prohibition policies of the last eight decades,” Marson said.

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