A recent article in Psychology Today reminds college administrators what we have already known for a number of years: marijuana has changed.
The article reports that over a past decade and a half, "the concentration level of THC [the active agent in marijuana] has more than doubled."
Dr. Nora D. Volkow reports, "It's much more potent marijuana, which may explain why we've seen a pretty dramatic increase in admission to emergency rooms and treatment programs for marijuana." She shares that "those who try to quit on their own face withdrawal symptoms -- including mood swings, anxiety attacks and depression -- and are often surprised by the intensity and duration of their discomfort." According to the Caron's Adolescent Treatment Center, “Marijuana has overtaken alcohol as the primary drug of choice for teens entering their inpatient treatment programs."
Read the article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/face-it/201302/latest-news-about-teen-marijuana-use.
Among students and even parents, there is still a broad perception that marijuana is either not harmful, or less harmful than other drugs. Parents falsely find comfort in knowing that "at least it's not a more dangerous drug. It's just marijuana." While there are still a myriad of harms that come from any substance use, and marijuana use might be on the more mild side, we still need to stay mindful and responsive to the changes in quiet sub-cultures of young people.
“Just marijuana” is no longer “just marijuana.” The drug has changed and is changing. In addition to supporting the laws of the state, we need to monitor our intervention and prevention strategies so that they remain effective in helping our students make informed – and healthy -- decisions.