(The Center Square) – Countries that have legalized marijuana are seeing stronger THC products and an increase in mental health problems among teenagers, according to a recent national study.
The America Without Drugs Foundation is the author of a study first published by The Center Square that reported a “link between adolescent cannabis use, high-performance cannabis use, and an increased risk of psychosis.”
The study, also commissioned by group Johnny’s ambassadors said states that have relaxed restrictions on marijuana have seen more use among teenagers, as well as deteriorating mental health.
“A difference test on average means shows that cannabis use is higher among all age groups in more licensed countries, with 47 percent more monthly cannabis use among adolescents (ages 12-17) and 81 percent more “Monthly cannabis use among young adults (ages 18-25) in U.S. states with fully legalized cannabis recreation programs than in states where cannabis use is not legal,” the report said. “As cannabis use increases, the subsequent increase in averages for major depressive events, severe mental illness, and suicidal thoughts is increasing in the more licensed U.S. states.
Although the causal relationship has not necessarily been proven by the study, researchers are calling for a more in-depth examination of this apparent investigative relationship.
“The results of the study presented in this study show that for every one percent increase in total monthly cannabis use, self-rated major depression increased by 0.45% for adolescents and 0.21% for young adults,” it said. in the report. “For every percentage increase in total monthly cannabis use by young adults, severe mental illness increases by 0.12 percent and suicidal thoughts increase by 0.11 percent. Panel regression models include control variables for gender, marital status, educational attainment, veteran status, unemployment status, race, and ethnicity.
States have eased restrictions on the sale and distribution of cannabis in recent years. Amy Ronshausen, executive director of the America Without Drugs Foundation, said that with the growth of the legal market for cannabis, market competition has forced manufacturers to create stronger products that include more THC.
“If there is a dispensary on every corner and people sell these products, you better believe that your dispensary will sell the biggest, the worst, the most powerful marijuana product it has, because you want your advantage in this market and that is what we see happening, “Ronshausen said.
According to the National Institutes of Health, research shows a link between marijuana use and negative mental health outcomes, but not all studies have found such a link.
“Several studies have linked marijuana use to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, including psychosis (schizophrenia), depression, anxiety and substance use disorders, but whether and to what extent it actually causes these conditions is not always easy to determine. determine, ”the federal health agency wrote on its website. “Recent research shows that smoking highly effective marijuana every day can increase the chances of developing psychosis by almost five times compared to people who have never used marijuana. The amount of drug used, the age of first use, and genetic vulnerability have been shown to affect this relationship. The strongest evidence to date relates to the links between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders in those with pre-existing genetic or other vulnerabilities.
Ronshausen calls for more research on high-potency products.
“Most of the research we have is on lower efficacy products, THC is low efficacy, and the research is not great when it comes to harm, it shows that these products are harmful,” she said. “So when these new threads can be up to 90% THC, we really don’t know what the results will be, and that’s a little scary. This is a new product. ”
Researchers say that teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the marketing of these products and the adverse effects on mental health, as their brains are still developing.
“It also affects the brain systems that are still maturing at a young age, so regular use by teenagers can have negative and long-lasting effects on their cognitive development, putting them at a competitive disadvantage and possibly hindering their well-being in other areas. ways, ”Nora D. Volkov, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a report by the research agency on the issue. “Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be addictive, and its use during adolescence may make other forms of problem use or addiction more likely.