Marijuana’s Impact on Mental Illness Utilizing the Research We Have

One challenge to preventing the use and misuse of marijuana is the belief that using marijuana is a good way to relieve stress, anxiety or other problems related to mental health. It is easy to see how this attitude could become more prevalent as those marketing the sale of marijuana exploit this belief to entice potential buyers.

However, the harmful effects of regular marijuana use are often overlooked or ignored. A recent study conducted in Denmark identified that regular marijuana use can have negative effects on mental health. “Cannabis use disorder is associated with almost twice the risk of developing depression and a two-to-three-times higher risk of developing bipolar disorder in both men and women," says Oskar Hougaard Jefsen, the lead author of the study, which has just been published in the scientific journal JAMA Psychiatry.

As New Jersey and 22 other states throughout the country have legalized adult use of marijuana, we must face the reality of legalization as it relates to the health of our community, especially our youth. As more and more people consume this product, more scientific research on the short and long-term effects of marijuana use needs to be conducted throughout the country.

Despite marijuana being legal in so many states, it is still classified as a schedule 1 drug by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), and the requirements for conducting research on Schedule 1 drugs are quite stringent. There is legislation on the federal level being considered that will make it easier to conduct research on marijuana, and there are efforts taking place making more funding available for research.

As more and more licensed retailers open up for business selling marijuana in New Jersey, PDFNJ will continue working with health care providers and other community organizations throughout the state to raise awareness and address issues of mental health, misuse and abuse of this product. One way your community can raise awareness is by hosting PDFNJ’s Child Break presentation which helps parents, caregivers, guardians, teachers and coaches talk to their kids about not only about marijuana, but also covers underage drinking, vaping/e-cigarettes, opioids and prescription medications.

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