Public Health

The mission of the Butte County Public Health Department (BCPHD) is to protect the public through promoting individual, community, and environmental health. 

Let's Talk Cannabis: Youth Prevention

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to smoke, consume, buy or possess cannabis (marijuana, weed, pot).

It’s important to learn some of the health impacts and consequences of using cannabis before age 21 in order to understand the risks involved.

Health Effects of Using Cannabis Before Age 21

Learning & Memory

Using cannabis regularly in your teens and early 20s may lead to physical changes in your brain. Youth who use cannabis regularly are more likely to have difficulty learning, memory issues, and lower math and reading scores. The more cannabis youth use, the harder it may be for them to learn. And the effects can last weeks after quitting. Brain development is not complete until age 25. For the best chance to reach their full potential, youth should not use retail cannabis.

Athletic Performance

Cannabis smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, which are not healthy for lungs. Cannabis can impact a teen's ability to learn new skills, even weeks after they last used. Cannabis can also affect athletic performance and coordination.

Addiction

Cannabis is addictive. It’s harder to stop using cannabis if you start at a young age. Youth who start using cannabis, alcohol or other drugs — even occasionally — may be more likely to continue using later in life.

Consequences of Using Cannabis Before Age 21

Unless a physician makes a recommendation for a young person to use medical marijuana, underage retail cannabis use comes with legal consequences that can negatively impact a young person's goals and plans. Learn what these consequences are so you'll be able to help them understand how using cannabis can affect their lives now, and in the future.

Minor in Possession

Much like with alcohol, if someone’s caught with retail cannabis under the age of 21, they could get a Minor in Possession (MIP) charge. This could result in fines, driver's license suspension, the loss of financial aid for higher education, and misdemeanor or felony charges.

  • First Offense: Up to a $100 Fine or a court order to complete as substance abuse education program. 
  • Second Offense: Up to a $100 Fine or a court order to complete as substance abuse education program and 24 hrs of community service.
  • Third Offense: Up to a $250 Fine or a court order to complete as substance abuse education program and 36 hrs of community service.

Financial Aid

Cannabis charges, including Minor in Possession (MIP) charges, can result in the loss of federal financial aid for college, including: Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, PLUS Loans, and Work-Study Programs.

Employment

Many employers still prohibit cannabis use by their employees, which could mean losing a job. Losing a job also means losing a job reference, which makes future employment even harder to get

Freedom and Goals

Cannabis may impact your educational and professional goals and how successful you are in life. Because your health and future are important to you, check out the resources below and learn more about how cannabis use impacts your body and brain.

Additional Resources

Youth Fact Sheet (PDF)
Parent and Mentor Fact Sheet (PDF)

FAQs

Can I use cannabis?
You can legally use cannabis if you are 21 or older. You can also use cannabis if you are 18 or older and have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card.

What about medical cannabis use?
Use of medicinal cannabis is legal if you have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card. To buy medicinal cannabis, you must be 18 or older and have either have current qualifying physician’s recommendation, a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, or be a Primary Caregiver as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7(d). You can possess up to eight ounces of dried cannabis and up to six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants, unless the physician’s recommendation specifies a higher amount. With a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, you do not have to pay sales tax when you buy cannabis, but you may have to pay other taxes.

What about edible Cannabis?
Edibles may have higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). If you eat too much, too fast you are at higher risk for poisoning.

Can I get a DUI if I drive while I’m high?
Yes. If you are under the influence of cannabis while operating a car, boat, or other vehicle, a law enforcement officer can pull you over and conduct a sobriety test.

What happens if I am under 21 and caught carrying or using cannabis?
If you are under 21 and caught in possession of cannabis you will be required to complete drug education or counseling and community service (unless you have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card). You could also face additional penalties (fines and jail time); depending on the location you are in when you are caught, whether it is your second offense and other factors.

Is cannabis harmful to teens and young adults?
Yes. The brain is still developing until the 20s. Using cannabis regularly in your teens and early 20s may lead to physical changes in your brain. Cannabis can harm a young person’s memory and ability to learn and pay attention. Some studies suggest a permanent impact as well. These harmful effects may make it harder for youth to achieve their educational and professional goals and impact how successful they are in life. Cannabis use also increases the risk for anxiety, depression, suicide and schizophrenia as well as substance use or abuse.


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Butte County Public Health
Phone: 530.552.4000
TTY: 530.538.6588
Fax: 530.538.2165

Report a Health Emergency, 24-Hour Line
530.538.7581

E-Mail Public Health:
phinfo@buttecounty.net

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Butte County Public Health
202 Mira Loma Drive
Oroville, CA 95965

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Except Holidays

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Public Health Department

202 Mira Loma Drive
Oroville, CA 95965

Report a Health Emergency
24-Hour Line: 530.538.7581

Cathy A. Raevsky, Director
Andy Miller, M.D., Health Officer
Public Health Leadership Team

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