Marijuana becoming drug of choice in Black Hawk County - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Marijuana becoming drug of choice in Black Hawk County

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Pathways Behavioral Services in Waterloo says marijuana is becoming the drug of choice for young people, taking the top spot away from alcohol. Experts say one of the main reasons for this change is accessibility. Students say it's easier to get marijuana than alcohol.

Lack of awareness of the harm, increase in the social acceptance, and easy access are all ingredients that are making marijuana number one for the youth in Black Hawk County.

Abbey Quin, an adolescent counselor for Pathways, has seen an increase in the number of young people looking for help.

"The kids are actually reporting that it's easier for them to get marijuana then it is to get alcohol. With prescription drugs all they have to do is open up their parents' medicine cabinets or grandparents medicine cabinets and get their little brother's and sister's medications. It's easier for those types of drugs too," said Quin.

Officials with the Waterloo Police Department say marijuana has been a problem for some time.

"Society looks at marijuana as not a very harmful drug, but in fact it is harmful and the use of marijuana a lot of times leads to the use of harder drugs or more dangerous drugs so to speak," said Waterloo Police Captain, Tim Pillack.

"There's this misconception that if it's prescribed it's safe as if it's not that big of a deal and they're just not seeing the whole big picture," said Quin.

Schools and area drug prevention agencies are making it a priority to warn students about the dangers of these drugs, but education must start at home.

"The bottom line is that parents are responsible for their kids and they are the ones helping educate the young people about the dangers of using alcohol and drugs," said Captain Pillack.

Officials with the Waterloo Police Department say despite these new stats, they believe alcohol still holds the top spot for the drug most abused by Black Hawk County youth.

For this study Pathways surveyed 569 area high school students and 32 percent of those students who took part did not think marijuana was harmful to use.

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