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Study links mental health risks to usage of high-concentrate marijuana

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You can get in trouble for pointing out that today’s marijuana isn’t the marijuana of the ‘60s and ‘70s, but it’s just not.

And the much more highly potent commercially-produced marijuana popular today – with THC levels beginning at 30 percent and pushing into the 90s in some concentrates – can be a public health concern.

new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry links increased risk of mental health issues with usage of higher-concentrate marijuana. The study, conducted with 1,087 24-year olds who reported recent marijuana use, found that users of high potency marijuana were four times more likely to abuse the substance and twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders.

“Studies such as this continue to prove what we have been saying for some time: today’s pot is light years away from the weed of Woodstock,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama administration. “As we have routinely pointed out, the science behind today’s pot is sorely lacking. As it catches up, we are certain to see more studies such as this.”

In addition to increases in anxiety, the study also found that users of high potency marijuana were more likely to use the drug once a week, twice as likely to have used other substances in the past year, and more than three times as likely to be tobacco users.

As the science struggles to catch up with the rising potency of today’s marijuana, we are only seeing the first signs that marijuana use has become much more harmful to the human brain. Last year, a groundbreaking study confirmed a link between the use of high potency marijuana and greater rates of psychosis at the population level.

Daily users of high potency pot were more than four times more likely to develop psychosis.

“When it comes to tobacco, we didn’t see truly drastic harms until big corporations saw the potential for massive revenues and started altering tobacco to make it more addictive,” Sabet said. “We are beginning to see the same take place with marijuana. A massive industry, ironically featuring billions in investment from Big Tobacco, is working to expand marijuana commercialization while also driving up THC content. Meanwhile, warnings from public health researchers and experts are ignored. We cannot allow this to continue.”

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