When you opened this blog post, what were you expecting to see as ‘the most dangerous drug out there’? Methamphetamine, opiates, oxycodone or crack cocaine?
The answer is...none of the above, according to Douglas Marlowe, chief of science, law and policy at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. “The most dangerous drug on the street today is marijuana,” said Marlowe, who spoke to an audience at the 2014 National Council for Behavioral Health conference in Washington D.C. about making treatment more effective by carefully matching an individual’s criminological risk-and-needs profile to a specific treatment plan.
He then answered the question the audience was dying to know: Why is marijuana the most dangerous drug out there?
“Because everyone thinks it’s safe,” Marlowe explained. “And because it’s a pediatric onset use.” Since there aren’t many cases of individuals who start to use methamphetamine or other illicit drugs at an early age when their brains are still developing, he believes this makes marijuana worse.
He also reminded the audience that the average reduction of IQ points for adolescent onset marijuana abuse syndrome is five to eight IQ points. “Eight for severe use, five for weekly but not severe use,” Marlowe said. “Let that sink in.”
Knowing this information, providers and clinicians should be aware that kids who start using marijuana in early adolescence are going to be harder to treat. Therefore they have a poorer prognosis, and will have to be treated differently than the ones with late onset, he explained.
“By the way, for those of you in support of legalization or de-criminalization, I’m not saying any of this to change your mind. I know that’s impossible,” he said. “I’m only saying this so that when it happens, I can say I told you so.”
Do you agree or disagree with Marlowe? I’d love to hear your thoughts!