Magazine article The Saturday Evening Post

Marijuana Users Risk Lifelong Consequences

Magazine article The Saturday Evening Post

Marijuana Users Risk Lifelong Consequences

Article excerpt

Dear Dr. SerVaas,

I've heard that the potency of marijuana has gone up from 8 percent to 30 percent--and that people who use it are showing signs of paranoia, psychotic symptoms, and lack of maturity. Apparently thousands are going to the ER for treatment of mental illness. Two relatives are showing all these signs, and I am very concerned about them. Please provide more information about this problem and the effects of using marijuana.

Shirley Dunton

Lake Forest, California

We sent your good letter to Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Volkow responds:

"I certainly appreciate your concerns. During the past 20 years, the average potency of marijuana went from about three percent to approximately 8.5 percent. There are other troubling statistics as well--increasing rates of marijuana abuse or dependence, unacceptably high numbers of young people smoking marijuana, and more people mentioning marijuana during emergency room (ER) admissions. The rising ER admissions are likely to reflect mental illness, plus the added incidence of car accidents, cardiac events, and the dangerous use of various drug combinations.

"Marijuana use can lead to paranoia and psychotic symptoms. In general, these effects are usually limited to the period during which the person is under the influence of the drug. Marijuana can also disrupt memory and impair judgment--prompting users to make unwise and dangerous decisions that could have lifelong consequences, such as driving while intoxicated or engaging in risky sexual behaviors. …

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