Many recent crashes in Illinois suggest that pot users think it’s safe to drive after toking, or they simply don’t care. Prior to the decriminalization of marijuana, Illinois experienced less than 1000 vehicle deaths each year. In 2016, the year of marijuana decriminalization, traffic deaths rose to 1078. In 2017, 1091 people died from fatal crashes on Illinois roads, and 1038 died in 2018.
With decriminalization, Illinois raised the marijuana limit from zero THC to 5 ng of THC. When politicians talk of decriminalization or legalization, they signal to the public a belief that pot is harmless.
When I was 17 my BFF Lisa was in a single car accident. She was prone to smoking bong hits and driving with her knees. She was in a coma for a year and died. I first smoked pot with her and her mom. Lisa was her only child.
I blamed a faulty car for her death, not pot.
In my 30s, I partied with a young 20s co-worker from UMass. She had smoked strong pot, AK-47 for years. I stopped hanging out once she became paranoid, delusional and agoraphobic. She later was in a mental hospital for schizophrenia and has been on disability ever since.
I blamed her genes for her debilitating mental illness, not pot.
I dated a patient, also named Lisa, at the dispensary who had extreme psychotic episodes whenever she smoked high potency Sativa. She would almost collapse, regress into a two-year-old state of mind, scream at the top of her lungs and then go into loud, joyous religious rapture singing.
The scariest experience was when in psychosis she uttered in a guttural deep voice so unlike her’s, “Choke her!” It was an alarming Sybil Stephen King moment that sent chills down my spine. I didn’t know if her split personality was talking about choking herself or me.
Needless to say, it was very hard being with her, we were not a good match whatsoever and broke up. I later learned that she committed suicide at 52.
I blamed her diagnosis of bipolar for her suicide, not pot.
Rip the Pot Van Winkle
One time in college my friends had too much water in a bong – really dirty, unchanged, high potency bong water. The too high water level caused me to unintentionally swallow a huge mouthful of bong water when I released the carburetor.
I immediately started to hallucinate, almost passed out. Was lucky to stay conscious long enough to make it to the bathroom and vomit profusely. Took a heck of a long time for my mind to clear and body to recover. But I saw no problem with continuing to use pot.
For years I discounted all of those signposts showing that marijuana is dangerous because I was so enmeshed in my pot denial.
When, finally, I experienced such terrible physical and mental effects myself, this Rip the Pot Van Winkle woke up out of a pot slumber. The truth could no longer be denied. Horrible psychosis woke me up. I am SO lucky I survived.
I had the epiphany that pot caused my BFF’s death via DUI; pot caused my friend to become schizophrenic, and pot caused psychosis and suicide with my ex-girlfriend. Pot caused me to think violent thoughts like shooting people, and brought me to the brink of suicide.
Pot almost took me out. I couldn’t perceive the damage because I was high on pot.
By Anne Hassel, a new friend of Parents Opposed to Pot.
Our son was happy and healthy before he started using marijuana at age 14. A friend introduced him to marijuana during a time when our family was supporting my wife in her fight against breast cancer. We noticed David changing rapidly, but attributed the change to puberty.
After being kicked out of the private school he had attended for many years, he became a heavy user and seemed to lose motivation for school and for life. He graduated from high school at the bottom of his class and started work as a plumber’s assistant. With his paychecks, he would buy more weed.
As his use became even heavier, he became increasingly removed from our family. He spoke of seeing aliens. By last Thanksgiving he appeared catatonic. The next day he stabbed his right palm with his pocket knife. He was hospitalized in a local mental health facility and diagnosed with depression and psychosis, and only tested positive for marijuana.
After a 6-day inpatient stay, David was discharged with no discharge planning. Notes from the facility reveal that David filled out a questionnaire on the day of discharge expressing that he “often” felt panic or terror and that he had made plans to end his life. This was not made known to the family, and he was discharged anyway.
After discharge he started an outpatient program. On the fourth day he smoked cannabis in the woods behind our house. Then he came inside, got a gun from the safe and shot himself.
Marijuana kills! It killed my son. We will never escape David’s loss, but we hope that by telling his story we can help other parents and children understand that marijuana is far from harmless. (We published a testimony by David’s sibling who described the effects of his death on the family.)
We have other articles that explain how the mental health system often fails in treatments for marijuana addiction, part 1. Mental health care fails at addiction treatment, part 2.
Leaders of the Parents Movement of the late 1970s and 1980s feared their children’s pot use led to apathy, lower grades and other drugs. The old concerns remain, but the new anti-pot Parents Movement warns more about the fact that marijuana may lead to severe forms of mental illness. A new study confirms that teen marijuana use increases depression and the risk for suicide in young adulthood.
According to the study, the odds of developing depression are 37% higher in young adults up to age 32 who used marijuana as teens, compared to those who did not. The odds of a young adult thinking about suicide were 50% higher in those who smoked pot as teens. The odds of a suicide attempt were almost 3.5 times higher in the pot smokers versus those who didn’t use marijuana. Continue reading Large new study shows teen cannabis use risk for later depression→