(Official Washington Examiner editorial, May 17)  The more marijuana is consumed, the more evidence mounts up that it ruins lives.

As more states legalize marijuana, and as popular culture increasingly treats the narcotic as though it were harmless, it becomes increasingly apparent that using it involves serious risks.

Lawmakers should stop decriminalizing recreational marijuana use, and allow it only as prescribed, via strict protocols, by licensed medical doctors. Even then, its use should be a last resort.

The latest worrisome study, released earlier this month, was conducted by researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark. Its most compelling finding is that “as many as 30% of cases of schizophrenia among men aged 21-30 might have been prevented by averting cannabis use disorder.”

Schizophrenia, defined by the National Institutes of Mental Health, is “a mental disorder characterized by disruptions in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions … Schizophrenia is typically persistent and can be both severe and disabling.”

It can be triggered by heavy pot use when it might otherwise not develop at all.

Marijuana joint, close up. Free public domain CC0 photo.

“The entanglement of substance use disorders and mental illnesses is a major public health issue, requiring urgent action and support for people who need it,” said NIDA Director and study coauthor Nora Volkow.

The existence of a link between marijuana use and schizophrenia has been known for decades, but the new study not only reaffirms the connection but also shows the problem’s growing severity, especially among young men. It blames the “increasing prevalence” of the problem on the “higher potency of cannabis” typically used today compared to typical street marijuana half a century ago….

Schizophrenia is far from the only danger from what pop culture treats as harmless fun. Cannabis also has been definitively associated with “depression, anxiety, and suicidality” among adolescents…. [The full editorial is at this link.]


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