Based on what we’ve been seeing, 2018 should be a significant year in the recovery field. For one thing, America’s opioid epidemic is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. Yes the crisis is getting the national attention it deserves, but it promises to be a tremendous uphill battle to actually overcome it. One other issue that is getting far less attention is the expected increase in marijuana use, particularly in our home state of California. Local officials pushed through sweeping legalization changes this year, making it much more accessible. And though many believe pot is not a harmful narcotic, we have seen research that has proven otherwise.
For starters, the strains that are being sold locally are much more potent than people from previous generations have encountered. The “casual marijuana” smoking of the past few decades now can induce feelings of paranoia and even schizophrenia. And don’t just take our word for it, a recent study from Psychological Medicine says the same exact thing. Writer Yvette Brazier summed up some the research in an article for Medical News Today.
“Marijuana use has been linked to symptoms of psychosis, such as paranoia and delusional thinking, in up to 40 percent of users,” she wrote. “Earlier this year, scientists warned that young people who use cannabis could be putting themselves at risk of psychotic disorders.”
And that’s just for the everyday public. If you have a history of psychosis, then you will be putting yourself even more at risk for an episode (per the latest data). The study showed that people battling mental issues are more prone to use, possibly because of its association with relaxation and stress relief. But these more potent batches can pose a much bigger risk and the fact that they are all now regularly available should raise some red flags.
For the record, Psychological Medicine isn’t the first outlet to produce these kinds of results. Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel conducted cannabis-related experiments on mice and saw strikingly similar results. They observed that younger “adolescent” mice with a susceptibility for developing schizophrenia gravitated toward THC (the primary ingredient of marijuana) and developed addictive habits. This led the scientists to surmise that any individual with a family history of mental illness should be cautious around pot.
“Our research demonstrates that cannabis has a differential risk on susceptible versus non-susceptible individuals,” TAU psychiatrist Dr. Ran Barzilay revealed. “In other words, young people with a genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia – those who have psychiatric disorders in their families – should bear in mind that they’re playing with fire if they smoke pot during adolescence.”
And let’s not forget that marijuana has had a long history of being labeled a “gateway drug,” meaning that, particularly with young people, it’s the first foray into substance abuse. It is also often associated with the “party lifestyle” and commonly gets paired with alcohol or harder drugs.
Our primary focus is to keep our audience educated on the potential dangers that could arise with these new changing laws. Colorado, for example, passed a similar legalization effort back in 2012 and in the years since, the state has seen an increase in marijuana related traffic deaths, poison control calls and emergency room visits. All important things to keep in mind as we enter this “new era” of California.