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Real Dangers of Marijuana

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According to a recent study by the University of Michigan, there is a 20 percent increase in the perception that regular marijuana use is acceptable and not a danger to health. The study also reported that at least 1 in 17 college students are now using marijuana daily. That means that 1 in 17 students are attempting to attend college-level classes and perform competitively while using marijuana daily. 

I meet with parents after they discover this reality. Parents are upset that their income is going to support a student that isn’t serious about their education. Moreover, they are fearful of the levels of anxiety, depression and, in some cases, psychosis this “recreational” drug has created in their child.  

The Dangers

There is no mistaking the dangers of marijuana, let alone the impact it can have on a developing brain. There is a considerable amount of evidence indicating the physical dangers. The smoke from marijuana contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer causing substances than tobacco. And if you are using a vape pen, you are increasing those rates significantly. In a research study that compared cigarettes to marijuana, it found that a single joint could cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked one after another.  

The serious issues that present clinically are those that impact the brain. There are many studies that link years of heavy marijuana use to brain abnormalities. Most compelling are nine different studies that have followed hundreds to thousands of people for decades, looking for a connection between marijuana and psychosis or schizophrenia. All but one of the studies found a correlation.  

Unless there is a genetic vulnerability, people won’t develop schizophrenia. However, I have personally treated at least half a dozen young adults that have had a full-blown psychotic or schizophrenic break due to marijuana use.  

Conclusion

Most college students are stressed. To relieve that stress they turn to pot, but they do not realize its effects. Realizing this, parents need to recognize the importance of teaching teens how to manage stress. They should be understanding steps to help balance daily life more through healthy strategies. Rather than using medication treatments and recreational substances. 

By // Dr. Lisa Strohman, JD, Ph.D.

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