States move to legalize recreational marijuana

By Katie McKendry, MS, LPC, CCS

Clinical Director

As more and more states move to legalize recreational marijuana, it’s important we talk about the impact this has on our developing youth. Currently, medical marijuana has been legalized in 33 states, while recreational marijuana is legal in 10 for individuals 21 and older. The availability of cannabis is greater than it has ever been, making it easier for our youth to get their hands on it at a young age.

Cannabis is widely known as the most abused drug by adolescents (< age 18) around the world. In a recently published meta-analysis, the study found that among the over 23,000 adolescent participants, cannabis consumption during adolescence was correlated with an increased risk of development of depression or suicidality in early adulthood. Now, what has been known in the psychiatric world as also being true, but what is unknown to the layperson, is that cannabis in adolescence has been linked to the triggering or worsening of psychotic symptoms.

There is no doubt that many folks living with chronic illness and pain benefit from the use of medical marijuana, just as many citizens may be able to use cannabis recreationally with no negative repercussions. However, with THC potency levels more than quadrupling since the ’90s (4% on average compared to close to 20% now), it’s vital that not only parents but also the public, be aware of the potential mental health impacts of cannabis use on the developing adolescent.

(JAMA Psychiatry, Child Mind Institute, NIDA)

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