Posted on: July 13, 2020 at 4:51 pm

On July seventh, Johnny Depp stated in court during a trial against British newspaper The Sun, that he was “involved” in the decision that allowed his now 21-year-old daughter to use cannabis.

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The actor told the court that he gave some of his own marijuana to his daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, after discussing it with her mother when she was thirteen years old. His reasoning for doing so was because he knew his was “clean”, and he did not want his daughter accepting drugs from a stranger when she didn’t know where they were coming from.

This happened after the young girl was offered some weed at a party, and she told Depp that she didn’t know what to do.

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“I said ‘listen sweetheart, if you are at a party and someone hands you the joint, take the joint from the person and pass it to the next person. Please don’t experiment with drugs with people you don’t know’” [1].

Depp explained that he emphasised to his young daughter that he wanted her to come to him when she felt ready to try marijuana for the first time, so that she could do it in a safe environment. He explained that he wanted his daughter to be able to trust and be honest with him, instead of hiding things from him.

“I want her to trust me. If my daughter says she was ready, she was ready. I wanted to make sure the settings were perfection, put on family TV, fill the refrigerator with ice cream, fill the freezer, make a situation where the experience is as pleasant as possible,” [1].

He said to the court that as far as he was concerned, he was being a responsible parent.

Read: Cannabis Might Help Curb Chronic Pain, Reducing the Need for Opioids

Adolescents and Marijuana

Since the early 2000s, there has been an increase in the prevalence of frequent marijuana use among teenagers, and the age of first use has been getting younger [2]. Teenage marijuana use is at its highest level in thirty years, and today’s teens are more likely to use marijuana than tobacco [3].

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In all states where marijuana is legal, the law says you must be over twenty-one if you want to use it for recreational purposes [4]. The reasoning behind this is because there is evidence that marijuana affects the brains of adolescents differently and more significantly than adults.

Because the human brain is still developing until around the age of 25, cannabis is more likely to have a harmful impact on younger users. Adolescents who frequently use marijuana are more likely to become addicted to it and harm their mental health, and it is more likely to affect learning and memory [5].

“In adolescents, the brain is still developing, so when we introduce a drug into the brain — particularly nicotine or THC — they’re more likely to become addicted,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University. “It actually changes their brain chemistry to want more of the drug” [6].

Research has shown that short-term adolescent and teenage marijuana use can lead to:

  • School difficulties
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Increased aggression
  • Car accidents
  • Use of other drugs or alcohol
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Worsening of underlying mental health conditions including mood changes and suicidal thinking
  • Increased risk of psychosis
  • Interference with prescribed medication [3]

If used over a longer period of time, adolescent and teenage marijuana use can lead to:

  • Cannabis Use Disorder
  • The same breathing problems as smoking cigarettes (coughing, wheezing, trouble with physical activity, and lung cancer)
  • Decreased motivation or interest which can lead to decline in academic or occupational performance
  • Lower intelligence
  • Mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, moodiness, and risk of suicide [3]

Evidence from both animal and human studies has suggested that the severity of the effects of cannabis on cognitive development is dependent on the age when the individual began using the drug.

Researchers believe that using marijuana during critical development periods while the brain is still maturing could cause long-lasting or even permanent alterations to the brain’s structure, which is why the effects of cannabis may be more damaging for an adolescent than an adult [2].

Many teens, however, believe that marijuana is safe to use because it is “natural”, which is why health experts are encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the problems related to marijuana use in an effort to delay the age of first use [3].

Read: Getting Stoned With Your Spouse Could Reduce Conflict in Your Marriage

Discussing Marijuana with Your Kids

Dr. Amy Sass, an adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, encourages parents to start having conversations with their kids about marijuana as early as the fifth or sixth grade.

“It’s actually good for parents to bring it up,” she said. “Parents know their kids the best. If they have a feeling that they should be discussing these topics, then they really should just go for it” [6].

She notes that while children may also be learning about marijuana at school or in other programs, it’s critically important for parents to discuss it with their kids at home. It’s also not a one-time conversation, she adds.

“You want to keep checking in with teens about it,” said Sass, “particularly as they’re gaining their independence and spending more time with their friends versus family” [6].

Halpern-Felsher says that it is important to be honest with your kids, and have open-minded conversations with them. She suggests saying something like this: “We’d rather you don’t use marijuana because there are some dangers to it. But if you do use it, the better choice is to delay as long as you can so you don’t have a lifetime addiction potential.”

If your child is already using marijuana, it is best to ask questions in an open and curious way to allow your child to talk freely without the fear of being judged. You don’t want to shut down the conversation by judging too quickly.

Sass recommends setting clear expectations about marijuana use and safety, such as never operating a vehicle if you’ve been using marijuana, and never getting into a car with a driver who’s been smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol.

Ultimately, however, she says that talking with adolescents and teens about drugs and alcohol is more about listening than talking [7].

Keep Reading: Cannabis shows promise blocking coronavirus infection, claims Canadian researcher

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Brittany Hambleton
Team Writer
Brittany is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario. She enjoyed a stint as a personal trainer and is an avid runner. Brittany loves to combine running and traveling, and has run numerous races across North America and Europe. She also loves chocolate more than anything else… the darker, the better!

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