What Impact Do You Believe the Increasing Legalization of Marijuana Will Have Upon Mental Illness?
Recreational use is even higher, with more than 22.2 million users, according to a 2015 national survey.
It is also consistent with animal experiments showing THC’s ability to "prime" the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs.49 For example, rats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine—a phenomenon called cross-sensitization. These findings are consistent with the idea of marijuana as a "gateway drug." However, the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, "harder" substances. Also, cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are, like marijuana, also typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances. It is important to note that other factors besides biological mechanisms, such as a person’s social environment, are also critical in a person’s risk fo drug use. An alternative to the gateway-drug hypothesis is that people who are more vulnerable to drug-taking are simply more likely to start with readily available substances such as marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol, and their subsequent social interactions with others who use drugs increases their chances of trying other drugs. Further research is needed to explore this question.
Marijuana is legal in some states, illegal in others, dangerously potent, and sold without warnings everywhere. But before we can do anything, we—especially cannabis advocates and those in the elite media who have for too long credulously accepted their claims—need to come to terms with the truth about the science on marijuana. That adjustment may be painful. But the alternative is far worse, as the patients at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute—and their victims—know.
Sevigny EL, Pacula RL, Heaton P. 2014. The effects of medical marijuana laws on potency. Int. J. Drug Policy 25:308–19
Pacula RL, Kilmer B, Wagenaar AC, Chaloupka FJ, Caulkins JP. 2014bDeveloping public health regulations for marijuana: lessons from alcohol and tobacco. Am. J. Public Health 104(6):1021–28
Sobesky M, Gorgens K. 2016. Cannabis and adolescents: exploring the substance misuse treatment provider experience in a climate of legalization. Int. J. Drug Policy 33:66–74
Stringer RJ, Maggard SR. 2016. Reefer madness to marijuana legalization: media exposure and American attitudes toward marijuana (1975–2012).