Is it Time to "Pump the Brakes" on Marijuana Legalization?
With many insidious dangers (fentanyl, xylazine) fueling the opioid overdose epidemic, we have tended to ignore marijuana. If there is a choice between using marijuana and opioids (or even alcohol), it is a “no brainer,” as no one has ever fatally overdosed on pot, and they are much less likely to get a DUI or cause injury in a vehicle (than under the influence of alcohol).
Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in negative marijuana experiences as it becomes progressively decriminalized. Of particular concern are the many young adults who are using more and stronger marijuana products than ever.
Marijuana is “Less Harmful” than Opioids, But Not "Safe"
There was an excellent article in Politico last week about the health issues associated with marijuana, titled “Pot is Making People Sick.” Now that a growing body of evidence says marijuana is bad for you, more regulation seems necessary.
The mental health impacts of using cannabis are becoming more clear, with some studies linking it to increased risk of depression and suicide.
While many people can enjoy marijuana recreationally with no negative effects, for some, marijuana can cause a variety of unwanted side effects, including:
- Psychosis and Schizophrenia
New scientific studies have uncovered evidence of a rise in children accidentally ingesting edibles, an increase in teenagers getting asthma in states legalizing marijuana, and growing rates of simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana among young adults.
Bad Experiences on Marijuana
Many people may have latent mental health issues that may be exacerbated by using marijuana. A common time for these types of symptoms are during the formative teenage years. We are concerned about the increased acceptance and use of marijuana, especially by teens and young adults. Marijuana is by far the most abused drug by 13-17 year olds.
Cannabis-induced psychosis is a possible side effect of excessive marijuana consumption. In those predisposed to a psychotic disorder, cannabis can act like a trigger, setting off symptoms of psychosis that are usually associated with conditions like schizophrenia.
There’s an increasing number of people reporting that they’ve experienced suicidal thoughts on marijuana. There are also more bereaved loved ones who blame the suicide of their family member on marijuana. In June, the National Institute of Health released study findings that correlated marijuana use with increase suicidal ideation.
What are Parents to Do?
You should talk to your children about the dangers of marijuana. As a crisis coach and family navigator, I am often called upon to facilitate these conversations. You are welcome to contact me at 619-993-2738 if you want help in this area. But, the key thing is to start the conversation, and the exact words you use are less important than sending the message that you want to establish a connection with them, and that you are doing it out of love.
Again, there’s no ‘wrong way’ to discuss the dangers of marijuana, but I certainly recommend including in the discussion the dangers of fentanyl (and, by extension, ‘all pills or drugs that don’t come directly from a doctor’). While it might seem irrelevant to the marijuana discussion, the fact is that during the current overdose epidemic, parents simply must discuss this with their children.
Getting Help is Always a Good Move
If you have a family member that you are concerned about, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. If you are located in San Diego, Confidential Recovery's outpatient rehab center provides convenient access—both weekdays and weeknights— to world-class alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
If you have a family member that you are concerned about, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You can start by contacting The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).