Marijuana is mainstream, more or less. Websites like The Cannabist review particular strains of pot along with recipes for various foods with marijuana as an ingredient. It’s fully legalized for recreational use in four states – and legal for medical purposes in another 20.
Part of marijuana’s mainstreaming has been the realization it may be a much less dangerous substance than previously thought. Compare it to alcohol: According to a study from 2015 published in the journal Scientific Reports, marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Alcohol, meanwhile, is a legal drug which causes nearly 88,000 Americans to die each year, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports.
However, serious questions remain on marijuana’s relationship with mental illness, leading scientists from the U.S., Europe and Australia to recommend awareness campaigns.
Marijuana, strength and psychological risks
Several studies have shown there is a link between use of marijuana and a risk of developing symptoms of psychosis, particularly if marijuana use starts early. Additionally, a recent study of nearly 2,100 people that appeared in the journal Molecular Psychiatry found people who carried a genetic predisposition of developing schizophrenia were more likely to also use marijuana. Other studies have found links between marijuana use and anxiety disorders.
Marijuana has gotten stronger – many new, popular strains contain higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active substance in marijuana, than ever before. A study that appeared in Lanced Psychiatry examined nearly 800 people aged between 18 and 65 in London and found 24 percent of new cases involving the symptoms of psychosis were also associated with marijuana containing large amounts of THC.
A recent study showed not all risks from regular marijuana use were related to mental health. Researchers led by University of California, Davis professor Magdalena Cerdá, DrPH, studied a group of children in New Zealand from birth to age 38. They discovered the subjects who smoked marijuana four or more days during the week ended up with less prestigious, less skilled and lower paying jobs than their parents. The heavy smokers also had more financial and social problems, which became worse with more years of marijuana use. Heavy drinkers also experienced declines in social class, but the researchers found their subjects who were dependent on marijuana experienced greater financial difficulties.
“Cannabis may be safer than alcohol for your health, but not for your finances,” said study co-author and Duke University psychologist Terrie Moffitt, Ph.D.
Dependency is still dependency
Although the idea of marijuana addiction sounds somewhat silly on the surface, marijuana use disorders are increasing. All mood-altering substances have a potential for abuse, and regular marijuana use can develop into an unwanted compulsion. Sovereign Health of California understands addiction isn’t a sign of moral failure, but a disease that responds to treatment and management. Our staff of compassionate experts tailor effective treatment plans to an individual’s specific needs, helping their patients have the best chance at a full recovery and a successful life. For more information, contact our 24/7 helpline.
About the author
Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for the Sovereign Health Group. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which’s he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at firstname.lastname@example.org.