The impact medical marijuana has had on our adolescent substance-abuse treatment program in Denver is profound.
Though proponents of legalization state that making pot legal is more likely to make it harder for teens to obtain pot, the 2009 boom in marijuana distribution coincides with a tripling of teens referred to our program.
Currently, 51% of our patients report getting their marijuana, illegally, …. from someone with a medical marijuana license.
Youth are more likely: 1) to be impacted psychologically, and 2) to become addicted to marijuana.
Dr. Thurstone, not surprisingly, stated: “patient attitudes about marijuana are changing – and in ways that make it much more difficult for us to help them stop using the drug. Recently, a teenage boy said he couldn’t stop smoking marijuana because “it is my medicine for anger.””
Even worse, a few young adult patients in treatment for marijuana addiction have marijuana licenses. These patients struggle with addiction, conflicting messages from one physician who recommends smoking marijuana and another who recommends stopping.
We must act swiftly to prevent situations such as this from getting worse.
Christian Thurstone, M.D. is the Medical Director of Adolescent Substance Treatment, Education and Prevention at Denver Health and Hospital Authority and Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Denver.