The risks of marijuana need to be included in teen mental health

Teen marijuana use

By Heidi Swan, published in The Beach Reporter, May 23.

My brother had good grades, friends and played sports. He came from a loving home and got his graduate degree at USC. He also liked to get high. After graduate school, he became homeless, mentally ill and went to jail many times.

Many parents simply haven’t heard about the association between teen cannabis use and psychosis and adult schizophrenia. Many aren’t aware these negative mental health effects often don’t emerge for several years.

The younger a person is when he/she starts, the more frequently he/she uses, the higher the risk goes up. The risk is even greater if a person is genetically predisposed. However, most people who are predisposed to it (about 10% of the population) don’t know it. Worse, with today’s higher THC concentrations, people who have no predisposition are experiencing psychosis.

The prevailing perception is that marijuana is harmless. However, the vape pens boast THC levels of 80-90% (compare that to 5% THC my brother was using). This is especially dangerous to a teenager because of how easily they get addicted to any substance. All forms of THC (edibles, vaping and smoking) are addictive.

Many people don’t know that in Colorado, the number one substance found in teenagers (ages 10-19) who committed suicide is marijuana.

We should include the risks of marijuana in our discussions about teen mental health. There is too much to lose. My brother will tell you so.