As of this writing, 30 states, Guam, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico all have approved the broad use of medical marijuana. Additionally, other states allow limited medical use and 8 states (and the District of Columbia) allow recreational use of the drug. Even though the use of pot and weed is becoming more acceptable, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I substance, meaning it is likely to be abused and it completely lacks medical value. This classification also means there hasn’t been much research into the efficacy of the drug for medical conditions and, in particular, we lack long-term studies that would tell us whether it is safe and/or effective when used over a long period of time. What we do know is that, in clinical practice – both in our practice and in discussions with colleagues in other practices – mental health professionals are seeing an increase in the number of incidents of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and even psychotic reactions now that marijuana use has become more mainstream. Did you know that:
- THC, the primary chemical in marijuana, is believed to stimulate areas of the brain responsible for feelings of fear.
- According to available scientific literature, people who use weed have higher levels of depression and depressive symptoms than those who do not use cannabis.
- Frequent or heavy use in adolescence can be a predictor of depression or anxiety later on in life – especially for girls.
- Even if using cannabis seems to alleviate symptoms in the short-term for some users, it can lead to delay in getting appropriate treatment.
- Scientific evidence suggests cannabis use can trigger the onset of schizophrenia and other psychoses in those already at risk of developing it.
- A 2015 study found that university-aged young adults are more likely to have a higher risk of developing depression from heavy marijuana use.
- Numerous research studies show that marijuana is an addictive substance. The more you use it, the more you need to use in order to get the same “high.”