Marijuana use is skyrocketing for teens and young adults who have no knowledge of the risks involved.
There are serious differences between today’s marijuana and the weed popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Today’s cannabis is much stronger and has very serious side effects we didn’t see back then, such as higher incidences of psychosis.
Here are some facts:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary ingredient in marijuana, is 20% more potent than it was in 1994, according to High Times.
- Marijuana enhanced with butane hash oil may increase THC concentrations to 80%. This version is very easy to obtain.
- Today’s marijuana contains lower levels of cannabidiol, a chemical that reduces the high and protects against side effects (sleepiness, paranoia, memory impairment).
High risk of psychotic episodes
With these chemical changes in today’s cannabis, young people are at much higher risk of a first psychotic episode – and psychosis for life. This is particularly worrying.
- Those who start smoking before their brains have matured have five times the risk of developing psychosis – and five times greater risk of dependence.
- Women’s brains reach full maturity in their mid-20s; men’s brains mature a few years later, so the risks persist long after high school.
- Weekend users triple their risk.
Synthetic marijuana – even more dangerous
Synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice, is another serious matter. Spice is easy to buy at gas stations, head shops, or online – and often, teens think it’s both natural and safe. While the plant material is entirely natural, the active ingredients are synthetic or designer cannabinoids have been added to them.
- Psychotic effects: paranoia, intense anxiety and hallucinations.
- Psychotic episodes: may persist or occur after the high has passed.
- Patients may not respond to traditional antipsychotics.
These risks are prevalent in every city and town, which makes it imperative that parents and children become educated about the risks. If you believe your teen or young adult is using these drugs, please get help. With the right counseling, it is possible to break this cycle of use – and help your loved one regain control of their life – and enjoy a good, well-balanced life.