(Official Washington Examiner editorial, January 5)  The more studies that are done on the growing of marijuana, the more it is becoming clear legalization of the drug is becoming a major public health crisis. Controls on marijuana should be not eased but strengthened.

In a December report in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. David A. Gorelick and others show that cannabis-related mental health problems are rising rapidly nationwide in conjunction with increasing legalization of the drug. Gorelick reported that almost 20% of those aged 12 and older used marijuana in 2021, with 16 million suffering from “cannabis use disorder,” which is the inability to stop taking the drug even as it causes health and social problems. And almost half of those addicts suffer other mental health illnesses such as anxiety, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, hallucinatory delirium, suicidality, or schizophrenia.

Another study released jointly last May by researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services in the Capital Region of Denmark showed that among men aged 21-30, “as many as 30% of cases of schizophrenia among men aged 21-30 might have been prevented by averting cannabis use disorder.” This isn’t just to say that many schizophrenics smoke weed. The study says marijuana use often triggers schizophrenia, which otherwise would not develop at all.

As it was put by Denmark’s study co-author Nora Volkow, “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.” And the problem is worse now than ever because today’s street marijuana typically has a far higher potency than that commonly used 50 years ago.

Indeed, the December study shows that marijuana use is responsible for 10% of all drug-related emergency room visits in the U.S. And among those aged 18-25, an astonishing 14% use marijuana at problematic levels. And cannabis use leads to a 30%-40% rise in the risk of car crashes. This coincides with a 2021 study of motor vehicle statistics showing that “the percentage of fatalities involving cannabis and coinvolving cannabis and alcohol doubled from 2000 to 2018.”…. [The rest of this editorial is at this link.]


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