A doctor who runs a drug treatment clinic for youth in Colorado says legalizing marijuana has led to many problems in his state and also carried over into Iowa. Dr. Christian Thurstone recently met with drug prevention groups in Iowa. “We’ve seen referrals to substance treatment, to adolescent substance treatment skyrocket — they’ve quadrupled in the last couple of years. We’ve seen used rates, prevalence of use among teenagers — go up significantly, pre-post,” Thurstone says.

He says there are other problems created by marijuana. “We’ve seen a doubling in traffic fatalities, with a driver who is positive for marijuana, double since 2006. We’ve seen school expulsions go up 40-percent pre-post 2010 when we had our defacto legalization of marijuana,” according to Thurstone.

Thurstone says three peer-reivewed medical articles have documented widespread abuse of medical marijuana. “We’ve documented that teenagers who use medical marijuana have more severe addiction than those who don’t use medical marijuana, just because of the potency of medical marijuana products that they’re using,” Thurstone says. He says the legalization has led to some ironic circumstances for the kids he sees in his Denver practice. “Sometimes people will be in treatment for marijuana addiction, yet they will also have a medical marijuana card,” Thurstone says.

He says Iowa has also been impacted. “In terms of the internet advertising of marijuana products, and the specific marijuana products which have tripled the number interdictions of marijuana coming from Colorado to Iowa the last few years. So, there are people who are really trying to change the current patterns of marijuana use in Iowa,” according the Thurstone.

Thurstone made a couple of appearances in Iowa last week. One was in his role as board member of the group “Smart Approaches to Marijuana” or SAM.