Health chief warns of kid pot dangers as NY readies for legal weed

Health chief warns of kid pot dangers as NY readies for legal weed

May 31, 2021

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The city Health Department wants kids to beware of reefer madness.

The agency recently warned doctors about the potential dangers of youths smoking weed and other substances — less than two months after the state green-lit recreational marijuana for adults 21 and up.

In an email blasted out last week to city doctors and public health officials, DOH chief medical officer Dr. Michelle Morse described a troubling uptick in kids puffing on pot, e-cigarettes and hookah.

Though just 3.3 percent of city public high school kids smoke cigarettes, 17.7 percent reach for reefer, Morse wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

An “alarming” 15.2 percent use e-cigarettes, 6.3 percent puff on cigars or cigarillos and 5.6 percent fire up the hookah, Morse added, citing unpublished data from a 2018 youth tobacco survey.

The email links to a DOH web page including resources pediatricians can use to help their young patients stay smoke-free.

One “product guide” on the page warns that marijuana “can impair recall memory” and increase “risk of motor vehicle accidents” in the short term, while “frequent or long-term cannabis use is linked to dropping out of school and lower educational achievement.”

Lighting up long-term can additionally lead to respiratory issues and “a higher
risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms,” the information packet warns.

Morse’s email also encourages doctors to provide anti-smoking “education and counseling” to kids as young as 5, and screen for signs of smoking starting at age 10.

The guidance was issued less than two months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo legalized recreational marijuana for New Yorkers 21 and older.

At the time, Mayor Bill de Blasio — who has previously acknowledged toking up in his college days — hailed the move to legalize it.

The state law allows municipalities to opt out of legalized marijuana sales, a move that several Long Island mayors have taken advantage of.

One such leader, Mayor Michael McGinty of Island Park, argued that legalizing marijuana for adults was bound to send the wrong message to kids.

“I don’t see anything but trouble on the horizon,” McGinty — whose village sits a short distance from Nassau County’s border with Queens — told The Post. “Of course legalizing marijuana sends a negative message and brings nothing but the possibility of harm for young people.”

The city DOH, its state counterpart and Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the seemingly crossed smoke signals.

Additional reporting by Aaron Feis

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