Marijuana’s impact on the brain: Does highly-potent marijuana cause mental health issues?
As marijuana becomes more accessible across the country, research shows that everything is getting higher – from the number of daily users to the number of reported cannabis use disorders, and even the potency of the marijuana being used. A recent study released by The Lancet details a correlation between high potency marijuana and an increased risk of psychosis and cannabis use disorders.
According to the study, marijuana potency has increased by more than doubled over the past two decades in the United States and European countries. The legal market for cannabis has opened the window of opportunity for the marijuana industry to develop products with higher levels of THC in a way that has never been experienced before under prohibition.
As of current, 19 states, Washington DC, and Guam have all legalized marijuana for recreational use, while efforts are being made all across the country to change cannabis laws and end the prohibition. While pro-legalization arguments focus more on the tax revenue generated from introducing a once-banned market in the state and the benefits of expunging criminal convictions, mental health advocates argue that marijuana’s impacts are largely being ignored.
The research involved 119,581 participants who have assessed over 20 various studies that compared rates of psychosis, depression, and anxiety amongst marijuana users. The study found that users who regularly consume cannabis with high levels of THC were five times more likely than users who don’t use marijuana at all to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as psychosis.
While the findings are alarming, this is the first research of its kind to study the risks of high-potent marijuana. Studies like this were limited due to the federal government's Schedule I classification of cannabis. While this is certainly an area of interest for lawmakers and scientists, more research must be done in order to conclude marijuana’s effects on mental health.