Can we tell our youth that, once they’re an adult, it’s ok to have a joint once every week, just as drinking a glass of wine or beer once a week can be done without lasting harm?
The answer is no, particularly in regards to psychotic outcomes. Every Brain Matters, our new website, addresses all aspects of the drug policy, with a special emphasis on saving brains. Some individuals experience acute psychosis after their first use.
A substantial percentage of the population cannot use marijuana without major adverse consequences.
The biggest risks from marijuana use are psychological risks, and these risks greatly increase if a person begins use when the brain is developing. Unfortunately, most North American youth have the wrong information and believe marijuana is relatively harmless.
The frequency of psychotic outcomes has increased exponentially during the 21st century. Stronger, more potent forms of marijuana have become the common forms sold in dispensaries and all efforts to cap the THC in commercial stores have failed in states with legal pot shops. The marijuana of the 1960s, 70s and 80s also triggered psychosis in some individuals, but less frequently. (For example, see two of our multi-part testimonies: A tale of two friends and Years of pot, drug addiction and homelessness.)
How the misconceptions affect drug policy
We shouldn’t make a policy based on the very few people who appear to use marijuana with impunity. Family history and genetic testing cannot determine who will face adverse consequences.
We must reject all attempts to accept and normalize pot use, to open stores, and to legalize in the name of generating tax money, because every brain matters.
Most of us think we shouldn’t control what people do in the privacy of the home. That belief doesn’t square off with the fact that most people have no idea how dangerous marijuana is. They have no idea of the risks they’re taking when they’re starting and continuing to smoke pot, and Every Brain Matters corrects the misconceptions. Keeping drugs illegal is a “harm reduction” policy.
Groups like Parents Opposed to Pot, Parent Movement 2.0 and One Chance to Grow up (Smart Colorado) have reached out to youth, warning of the dangers of early pot use. Many teens have come to the new idea of not using before age 18. They get the notion that marijuana can wait and then wait until senior year or age 19 or 20. This delayed use also comes with great risk, and marijuana actually is not safe for any age.