Category Archives: Mental Health

Cannabis and THC: How it damages the brain and body

By Mary Brett BSc (Hons) Chair of Cannabis Skunk Sense in Great Britain

Damage is caused in several different ways.

Neuron — Courtesy of Mary Brett who provided the image

BRAIN: Messages are passed from cell to cell (neurons) in the brain by chemicals called neurotransmitters which fit by shape into their own receptor sites on specific cells.

The neurotransmitter, anandamide, an endo-cannabinoid (made in body) whose job is to control by suppression the levels of other neurotransmitters is mimicked and so replaced by a cannabinoid (not made in body) in cannabis called THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is very much stronger and damps down more forcefully the release of other neurotransmitters. Consequently the total activity of the brain decreases. Chaos ensues. Continue reading Cannabis and THC: How it damages the brain and body

Free Zoom Event to watch A Night in Jail

Behavioral Health Services, a contractor for Los Angeles County Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, will present a free Zoom event during National Prevention Week on Thursday, May 14, at 5 PCT, 8 pm on the East Coast. Please join in with us.

The event will feature Heidi Anderson-Swan and her brother, K Anderson, who wrote the book,  A Night in Jail. They were inspired by true events in the brother’s life as a homeless drug addict with schizophrenia. (He went to jail eighteen times.)  Also adapted for the stage, the book illustrates cannabis-induced psychosis. (Heidi Swan’s testimony was published on this website about a year ago.)

The presentation will start with education on how marijuana has changed over the years, followed by an interview with the authors from a Los Angeles NBC station. The 18-minute movie, A Night in Jail,, will follow.  The short film was a student-led project, with eight teenagers in on the production shot at the Redondo Beach Police Station and in a garage.  A 16-year-old student directed the film!

After the film, but still on zoom, Mayor Bill Brand, of Redondo Beach, will moderate a panel discussion. The authors and an addiction psychiatrist who works for LA County Department of Mental Health and Homeless Outreach, Dr. Jeremy Martinez will speak as part of the panel. The film and discussion are particularly relevant at this time, and even before the coronavirus pandemic, because of the tremendous increase in homeless in the Los Angeles area.   We hope Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti pay attention.

Goals and Outreach

The ultimate goal of A Night In Jail is to have it read/watched/performed in schools. The approach is to use storytelling/drama therapy to educate youth. Dr. Christine L. Miller generously guided me in the making of an educational toolkit to go along with the story. It is a free download at


A grant made the presentation possible for Behavioral Health Services.  BHS hopes to repeat the program in other venues. Some of the presenters are available to travel around the country and screen the film in communities, with discussions open to the public. 

  The short novella, available on Amazon, received rave reviews.

The marijuana of the 1960s sent me down a path of mental illness

As far as I’m concerned, those who claim that marijuana is harmless don’t know what they’re talking about.   Also there’s a misconception that only the stronger pot of today is dangerous.

What you don’t know is that I became addicted to marijuana in my early 20s, and suffered a psychotic breakdown shortly after my 25th birthday. Ever since then I’ve struggled with mental illness, especially depression with frequent thoughts of suicide. Continue reading The marijuana of the 1960s sent me down a path of mental illness

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