Marijuana Use Linked to Adolescent Cognitive Decline: Novus Medical Detox Details Drug’s Influence on Youth Academic Performance

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Marijuana legalization appears to be gathering support throughout the U.S.—but Novus Medical Detox discourages its legalization, as the drug has been shown to negatively impact youth academic performance and intellectual aptitude.

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While we can’t control the legislation that has made marijuana readily available, we can control who acquires the drug—and children and young adults should never have access to marijuana or any addictive substances.

Research has demonstrated an association between early marijuana use and low educational attainment—heavy marijuana use correlates with cognitive decline in about 5% of teens, suggesting that the heaviest users could lose 8 IQ points (1). Despite the clear consequences of cannabis use, some states are now opting to legalize recreational marijuana use, a movement that Novus Medical Detox—one of the only Florida-based detox centers serving high-dosage drug abuse patients—deems reckless.

According to the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, youth with poor academic results were more than four times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year than youth averaging higher grades, a result consistent with studies that found that marijuana use is consistently associated with lower grades and a decreased chance of graduating from school (2)—a potential pitfall, given the number of teens who reportedly use marijuana:

●Roughly 6.5 percent of high school seniors smoke marijuana daily;
●Nearly 23 percent of seniors said they smoked the drug in the last month; and
●About 4 percent of 10th graders said they smoke the drug daily, and 18 percent have smoked marijuana within the last month (3).

Kent Runyon, Executive Director of Novus, says, "as states begin to legalize marijuana, there will likely be an increase in the number of users—many of whom may be adolescents who fail to understand the potential consequences of the drug on their intellectual capacity. The studies show that adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the effects of marijuana, and legalizing the drug will only increase its availability,” said Runyon. “Its legalization will increase the likelihood of increased use by children and youth in our nation, leading to an increased risk of addiction and a decrease in mental capabilities.”

Not only does marijuana have an effect on the cognitive abilities of its users, per Runyon, but many Novus patients began their drug affliction with marijuana use before graduating to harder narcotics or opioids—a statement echoed by a Yale University School of Medicine study that found that marijuana use was associated with an increased likelihood of prescription drug abuse in men aged 18 to 25 (4).

Instead of permitting the use of addictive substances such as marijuana, Runyon proposes that healthcare professionals research the medicinal properties of marijuana to find a solution in the realm of non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy attainable medications. In addition, Runyon suggests public education about the dangers of marijuana use in children and teens.

For states that have already legalized the substance or are preparing ballot initiatives that would authorize recreational use, Runyon encourages strict policies that prohibit the sale of the drug to minors—much like the laws currently in place for cigarettes and alcohol.

“While we can’t control the legislation that has made marijuana readily available, we can control who acquires the drug—and children and young adults should never have access to marijuana or any addictive substances,” Runyon said.

Runyon advises those who are dependent on any abusive substance(s) to seek out safe, medically-supervised detox programs, and to use those with integrated medicine that allows the detox process to be as comfortable as possible.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox’s addiction and detox programs, visit

About Novus Medical Detox Center:

Novus Medical Detox Center offers safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs in a home-like residential setting. Located on 3.25 tree-lined acres in New Port Richey, Fla., Novus is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families as an inpatient medical detox facility. Novus is known for minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal from prescription medication, drugs or alcohol by creating a customized detox program for each patient, incorporating medication, natural supplements and fluid replenishment—putting the dignity and humanity back into drug detoxification. Patients have 24/7 medical supervision, including round-the-clock nursing care and access to a withdrawal specialist, and enjoy comfortable private or shared rooms with a telephone, television, DVD player and high-speed Internet access. For more information, visit

1.Szalavitz, Maia. “Does Marijuana Use by Teens Cause Drop in IQ?” Time Magazine, 28 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

2.“Marijuana & Public Health.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

3.Gillam, Carey. “U.S. Teens Smoke More Marijuana, but Back off Other Drugs: Survey.” Thomson Reuters, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

4.“Yale Study: Marijuana May Really Be Gateway Drug.” N.p., 21 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.

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