As legalization of marijuana in Vermont is advancing, it is important for parents and others to consider the impact that marijuana use can have on the teen brain. From our partner at PreventionWorks!VT:

Marijuana use is associated with several mental health disorders. Adolescent marijuana users, in particular, often show clinically significant symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and ADHD, along with conduct disorders. Just a few of the many examples of the negative impact of marijuana use on specific mental health challenges are outlined below:
Marijuana use and psychosis:

  • Since 2002, a series of ten long-term epidemiological studies have reported that individuals who used cannabis had a greater risk of developing psychotic symptoms and full-blown schizophrenia than non-users.
  • A recent study showed that the risk goes up to five-fold if the use is heavy or the marijuana is strong (potency 12% THC or higher; the average potency nationwide is now 13%; in Seattle it is 21%).

Marijuana use and suicidality

  • Teenage marijuana users have up to a seven-fold increase in the likelihood of suicide planning and attempts.
  • Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey data shows that suicide planning and attempts by Vermont teens increase directly as marijuana use goes up.
  • A recent study of Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans who use marijuana regularly are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who don’t use marijuana.

Marijuana use and PTSD

  • In a 20-year study involving over 2000 U.S. veterans being treated for PTSD, those who used medical marijuana in conjunction with the standard therapy reported worse outcomes four months after treatment ended than those who didn’t use marijuana.

We still have a lot to learn about how the highly potent marijuana available today impacts the brain, but we can say with certainty that those with a family history of addiction or mental health issues are at greater risk.
For more information to read and share, download this PDF.

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