Marijuana Use Tied to IQ Drop

Working in the ER, I encounter many substance abusers.  Generally, my attitude towards marijuana goes something like this "well, at least it's not crack".  Despite my West Coast origins, perhaps I should not be so casual towards THC.  A study released this week shows that heavy marijuana use may be tied to a drop in IQ.

Researchers in New Zealand showed that participants diagnosed with marijuana dependence before the age of 18 showed a decline of an average of 8 IQ points by the age of 38.  Dr. Madeline Meier of Duke University states that "the study's findings are consistent with speculation that cannabis use in adolescents, when the brain is undergoing critical development, may have neurotoxic effects."  Meier's study also indicates that adult-onset cannabis use does not affect IQ.

How should we use the results of this study as nurse practitioners?  Many adolescents view marijuana as a safe substance.  Nurse practitioners must have open and honest conversations with adolescents and their parents regarding the effects of marijuana and it's continued impact into adulthood.