Almost All Opioid Users Started With Marijuana

Posted on April 6, 2022 View all news

My name is Juli Shamash, and my son Tyler suffered from addiction and ultimately died at age 19 from ingesting fentanyl.

Tyler, and almost all opioid users, started with marijuana. At the time, I didn’t think him smoking pot was such a big deal. I assumed it was non-addicting and harmless. I grew up in the 80s and at the time, many people experimented with pot. What I did not know was that the pot of today is so much stronger than the pot of my years and that it changes the developing brain. Had Tyler known these things, it may have kept him from ever trying it and ultimately becoming addicted.

Everyone, including children, are being exposed to cannabis advertising without seeing health warnings or information. This continues to occur as products are becoming more potent and hazardous. There is a fundamental lack of understanding of the potential harms of marijuana. The National Academies of Science concluded that cannabis use is associated with motor vehicle crashes, psychosis, schizophrenia, self-harm, low birth weight, worsening lung disease, a serious risk to developing adolescent brains, and interactions with various prescription medicines.

I’m all for informed adults being able to use marijuana products if they know the risks. It’s really important that marijuana contains unbiased labels outlining the science-based risks so people can make informed decisions about its use. I wish I knew the risks when Tyler started using marijuana products. Perhaps if I had, he would still be alive today.

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