With all of the media coverage being given to Washington state for legalizing recreational marijuana, this seems like the time to talk about recent research out of New Zealand. Let's take a look.
Teenagers who frequently smoke marijuana risk a long-term drop in their IQ. BUT, the researchers didn't find the same IQ dip for people who became frequent users of pot after 18. A lead researcher at Duke University, Madeline Meier, states that parents should understand their adolescents are particularly vulnerable.
Study participants from New Zealand were tested for IQ at age 13 and again at age 38. Knowing that significant marijuana use occurs after age 13, this research is valid. And it shows mental decline between age 13 and age 38 only of those who started regularly smoking pot before age 18.
Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the world and, according to the United Nations, between 119 million and 224 million users between the ages of 15 and 64 were toking as of 2010. The scary part for the United States is that 23 percent of high school students say they're smoking pot, making it more popular than cigarettes.
So, while we may think marijuana is a legal issue, perhaps we need to begin seeing it as the health issue that it is. Let's not talk about the pros and cons of marijuana at this point (although we may next year); let's just see it as a harmful substance to the developing brain just like alcohol is harmful to the developing brain.
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640. The board's office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.