Tag Archives: suicide

Is Marijuana a Safe Drug?

We all know individuals who have been able to use marijuana and be happy, successful and productive members of society. The precise proportion of users who fall into this category is not known, but what is clear is a substantial percentage of people cannot use marijuana with impunity. Unfortunately, you can’t tell ahead of time who that is going to be. There is no genetic test, no psychological profile, no family history screening that is reliable.

The question becomes not how many fatalities does use of marijuana cause, but can a young person use it occasionally, i.e. “responsibly,” like having a single beer once a month or once a week, and be sure that they’ll be O.K.? The answer is no, particularly in regards to psychotic outcomes. Some individuals experience acute psychosis after their first use.

1) Psychosis: hundreds of peer-reviewed, scientific articles show a correlation between marijuana use and psychotic outcomes such as schizophrenia, too numerous to list here. The question of whether marijuana is causal for psychosis has been answered in the affirmative by applying standard principles of causation used in pharmacological and epidemiological research:

  •  Dose response effect, so that heavier use of more potent product results in more users developing schizophrenia(Zammit et al., 2002; van Os et al., 2002; DiForti et al., 2009; DiForti et al., 2015)
  •  Administration of the active ingredient (∆9-THC) in the clinic under controlled conditions causes psychotic symptoms (D’Souza et al., 2004; Morrison et al., 2011; Bhattacharyya et al., 2011; Freeman et al., 2014).
  •  Self-medicating is not that likely, because many will try to quit to avoid the psychotic symptoms before they become too impaired (Fergusson et al., 2005), e.g. comedian Seth McFarlane; but for others it may be too late (as seen in The Other Side of Cannabis, Heartsgate Productions, 2015).
  •  Marijuana use generally comes before the psychosis, not vice-versa (Arseneault et al., 2002; Henquet et al., 2005; Kuepper et al., 2011).
  •  In users who have schizophrenia, the age of onset is earlier than for non-users, similar to the effect of carcinogens in causing an earlier onset of a suite of cancers (Veen et al., 2004; Barnes et al., 2006; Large et al., 2011)
  •  Of all recreational drugs, marijuana use is the most likely to result in chronic psychosis (Niemi-Pynttari et al., 2013).

What percentage experience a psychotic outcome? The low to moderate-strength marijuana available in the last century was shown to trigger single psychotic symptoms (paranoia, racing thoughts, delusions, hallucinations) in 12% to 15% of users (Thomas, 1996; Barkus et al., 2006; Smith et al., 2009). Of those with such “prodromal” symptoms, about 35% can be expected to develop full psychosis, i.e. a constellation of symptoms occurring at once (Cannon et al., 2008). For about half of these individuals, conversion to chronic schizophrenia spectrum disorder occurs irrespective of family history (Arendt et al., 2008; Niemi-Pynttari et al., 2013).

The result for low to moderate-strength marijuana was about a 2.5-fold increased risk of schizophrenia, but for the high strength product available today, the risk for schizophrenia is 5-fold compared to non-users (DiForti et al., 2015). That increase in risk translates into about one out of every twenty users if they don’t quit in time. Is this impact limited to adolescence? Given that the brain continues to develop in males through the late twenties (see figure on back), it seems unlikely that the risk for chronic psychosis is limited to adolescent users. Furthermore, administration of THC to adults in a clinical setting results in psychotic symptoms (D’Souza et al., 2004; Morrison et al., 2011. Bhattacharyya et al., 2011; Freeman et al., 2014).

Other Adverse Psychological Outcomes

2)  Risks for anxiety, panic, and depression are increased by marijuana use: Zuardi et al., 1982; Thomas, 1996; Patton et al., 2002; Dannon et al., 2004; Hayatbakhsh et al., 2007; Medina et al., 2007; Hasin et al., 2008; Zvolensky et al., 2010; Fairman and Anthony, 2012; Silins et al., 2014; Cougle et al., 2015; with some studies showing that correction for confounding variables lessens the association with anxiety and depression, while others report the effect remains. For a review see: Miller CL, The Impact of Marijuana on Mental Health in: Contemporary Health Issues on Marijuana (Winters KC and Sabet K, eds), Oxford University Press, in press.

3)  Risk for suicidal ideation is increased on average 7-fold: Arendt et al., 2006; Silins et al., 2014; Kvitland et al., 2016 , even after correcting for a prior history of depression: Clarke et al., 2014.  In 2014 (the report specific for 2015 data is not yet available), the 2nd year after legalization of recreational use of marijuana, Colorado experienced the highest suicide rate in state history: “In 2014, there were 1,058 suicides among Colorado residents and the age-adjusted suicide rate was 19.4 per 100,000. This is the highest number of suicide deaths ever recorded in Colorado.” Office of Suicide Prevention Annual Report 2014-2015, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Particularly alarming, the Colorado media has reported sudden onset suicidal ideation or completed suicide in consumers of commercial edibles: Levi Thamba Pongi, Denver, 2014; Richard Kirk, Denver, 2014; Luke Goodman, Keystone, 2015, but also reported following the smoking of potent marijuana: Brant Clark, Boulder, 2007; Daniel Juarez, Brighton, 2012.  (Editor’s note: In Seattle, 16-year-old Hamza Warsame jumped six floors to his death after smoking marijuana in December, 2015.)   These responses can happen so quickly in individuals who were not previously suicidal that intervention may be impossible. 

4)  Lack of educational achievement and decreases in motivation – after covariate adjustment, the odds for marijuana users completing high school are reduced to about 0.37-fold that of controls (Silins et al., 2014); accounting for demographics and other factors, marijuana use adversely affected college academic outcomes, both directly and indirectly through poorer class attendance (Arria et al., 2015); decreases in motivation with marijuana use have been documented in clinical studies of humans (Bloomfield et al., 2014) and in animal models (Silveira et al., 2016).

5)  Negative impacts on IQ: up to an approx. 7 point drop in IQ from childhood scores by age 38 in marijuana users who have been abstinent for 24 hours prior to testing; but only an approx. 5 point drop in those abstinent for a week prior to testing (Meier MH et al., 2012); a subsequent study of twins by Jackson et al., 2016, yielded mixed results, with an average decline of 4 points in marijuana users by late adolescence, however restricting the comparison to the matched twins (thereby controlling for genetics and a myriad of environmental factors), the effect of marijuana largely disappeared. The limitation of this later study is that brain development is not complete by late adolescence, particularly the wiring of the all-important cortex is still ongoing through the late twenties (see Figure below). There is no controversy, however, about the negative, real-time impact of marijuana use during tests of cognition and memory: Curran HV et al., 2002; Ranganathan and D’Souza, 2006; Morrison et al., 2009; Solowj et al., 2010; Pavisian et al., 2014.

By  Christine Miller, Ph.D., for Moms Strong.  Dr. Miller also wrote Ten Myths Marijuana Advocates Want You to Believe.

See 10 Myths Marijuana Advocates Want You to Believe for complete information, footnotes and the bibliography

Legalizing Marijuana Creates Challenges for Youth

Schools, Educators Have New Problems

Legalization legitimizes pot for adults, which of course makes the children believe there are no negative consequences.

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Traffic (HIDTA) report provided statistical information.  The report also had some anecdotal reports from the schools.  In August, 2015, high school guidance counselors answered survey questions about by how marijuana legalization in Colorado affected the schools.  According to the survey 51% of the respondents said that the most prominent marijuana violation is “students being under the influence of marijuana during school hours.” Continue reading Legalizing Marijuana Creates Challenges for Youth

Marijuana Policy Must Protect Youth

By Roger Morgan, Founder/Chairman Take Back America Campaign America has gone from leading 92 countries in the fight against narcotics to a rogue nation with a federal government that has largely abandoned its responsibility to enforce drug laws. Marijuana, the enemy within, is rightly classified a Schedule I drug because it has no accepted medical use and has the potential for harm. Isolated components of the plant, like CBD, do appear to have medicinal value, but the marijuana being sold today as medicine has been bio engineered to be high in THC, the psychoactive ingredient, and void of CBD, because 98% of the “patients” just want to get high.

In 1979 by Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws), announced at Emory University that the term “medical marijuana” would be used as a red herring to give pot a good name as a first step toward full legalization. It has been a long, patient plan, but obviously working thanks to the help of a few billionaires, with George Soros at the helm. Owing to a propaganda campaign financed by Soros, and now deceased Peter Lewis (former Chairman of Progressive Insurance) and John Sperling (founder of Phoenix University), Californians approved Prop 215 in 1996 to provide “medical marijuana” out of compassion for the chronically ill. In reality it had nothing to do with compassion, but was simply the first step in the long journey to legalize pot, with no concern for the social consequences for mankind.

Public Health and Safety is the first and most important priority of governments at all levels. Unfortunately, when the federal government fails to enforce the law, the burden falls to the States. When the States fail, the burden falls on local communities, which is exactly what has happened in California. In spite of the fact that the State collects between $58 and $105 million a year taxing marijuana, the money goes into the general fund leaving local government with burden of mental illness, suicides, declining academic achievement, more welfare, traffic deaths and crime. As an example, 54% of arrestees in the Sacramento area test positive for marijuana, 80% for all drugs. But crime isn’t the only problem.children

Marijuana is s fat soluble toxin that stays in the body and brain longer than any other drug. Unlike water soluble alcohol where one ounce is excreted from the body in 12 hours, half the THC from pot remains in the body and brain for a month, compounding with each additional joint. It weakens the immune system, increases the chance of cardiac arrest, leads to respiratory problems and cancer, and causes more DNA damage than even heroin based on studies done over 30 years ago, when the THC content was only 1/2 to 2%. Today the THC content averages 15%, goes as high as 37% in smoked form, and up to 90% as wax (BHO). It doesn’t kill by overdose, but almost all of the 114 Americans who die every day from drug overdose started their drug journey with pot.

Marijuana’s biggest impact is on the brain, which isn’t fully developed until age 25. Until it is, particularly during adolescence, marijuana can cause irreversible brain damage and subsequent loss of IQ by as much as 8 points. Pot is a causal factor in suicidal depression; psychosis including schizophrenia and paranoia; psychotic episodes leading to violent acts; impaired cognition, learning and memory; double the risk of traffic accidents and death; addiction; and causes death or physical deformities to a fetus. Unfortunately, the majority of consumers are 25 and under, peaking at age 19 or 20.PiedPiper(8)

California is targeted for outright legalization in 2016, financed again by Soros and out-of-state billionaires. America is already on a trajectory for 1/4th to 1/3rd of its young people and their offspring to incur permanent brain damage. Since the burden of public health and safety now rests with local government and private citizens, we must lock arms and do all possible to protect our youth, or neither they nor we have a future as a nation
ROGER MORGAN Chairman/Founder, Take Back America Campaign, 20 year anti-drug activist dealing with drug prevention at the local, state and national level. (www.tbac.us). Formerly Chairman and Executive Director of the Coalition for A Drug-Free California. Owner/CEO of Steelheart International LLC, engaged in international business development and has been an entrepreneur and businessman in California for 35 years. Formerly, he was Vice President of Volvo of America and General Manager of Volvo Penta of America; and engaged in sales, marketing and dealer administration with Caterpillar Tractor Company and Caterpillar Overseas. He is a graduate of Washburn High School in Minneapolis (1956), Colorado College (1963) and The Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management (1964). He was Founding Chairman of the Coronado SAFE Foundation in 1997, a non-profit dealing with drug prevention; prior Board Member of the San Diego Prevention Coalition; member of the National Coalition for Student Drug Testing; and Special Advisor to the Golden Rule Society in Coronado. His passion for drug prevention stems from two step-children who became drug addicted at age 12 and 14 roughly 32 years ago, and two nephews who died from drug related causes. Morgan has authored two books, published on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble, relating to marijuana and drug prevention. He is a frequent speaker and has written hundreds of articles on drugs and drug prevention.