Young people do not have the capacity to make sound decisions about substance use or abuse, says Richard Taite, CEO of the Cliffside Malibu addiction treatment center in a recent editorial. Taite bases his argument on the fact that the brains of people under 25 years of age are still developing, though the "legal" age for making individual decisions about the use of alcohol, and now, marijuana, is typically 21.
Taite maintains that "whether drugs like marijuana are legal or illegal, they have the potential to cause tremendous harm if abused. Most people start their habituated use long before the legal age at which they can make those decisions with full regard for the outcomes." Arguing from his own experience as a marijuana user - experience that left him with neurological deficits - he maintains that it is important to protect young people from harm.
With regard to marijuana, he argues that if a legal use age is to be established, that age should be 25 years old, after the brain has completed its development.