Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reefer Madness

I live in Denver, Colorado where there is a push by certain groups to legalize or minimize the penalties for marijuana use. One group uses the term “safer” as their motto. I think it has two uses. Many people will vote for something they don’t know anything about because it will make us safer. The organization using the slogan says that marijuana use is safer than alcohol use.

I’ve had a lot of personal experience in the use and effect of marijuana. I was around fourteen years old when I tried it for the first time. I fell in love but for two years, my use was limited by availability. At around sixteen, I used it more and within a year was smoking every day, all day. I was also selling so I had unlimited availability and some cash as well. This continued until I became a Christian at eighteen.

As I look back, I see two major problems with marijuana: it makes you stupid and lazy. You can even see that in movies that are sympathetic to pot use. The characterization is usually the goofy mess-up.

When I was smoking daily, that is all I cared about. My day was centered on pot. I had zero ambition concerning anything else. I had money and I had dope, that is all that mattered. My friend and I had great plans for the future but neither of us did anything to make it happen. The only constant was making sure the next pound was bought and that enough customers were serviced to keep the cycle going.

I came across some studies recently that cast an even darker light on pot use. It seems that the studies are showing that regular pot use can lead to psychosis. I’m going to give some quotes. If you are interested further you can look up the cites for more info.

Does Cannabis Cause Schizophrenia?

A meta-analysis suggests that cannabis use is associated with a 40% increased risk of psychosis in later life.

The risk for psychotic outcomes (defined as a range, with schizophrenia as the most severe manifestation) was higher in individuals who had ever used cannabis (adjusted odds ratio, 1.41) than in those who had not. A dose-response effect was observed, with increased risk in people who used cannabis most frequently (OR, 2.09).

— Leslie L. Iversen, PhD

Dr. Iversen is Visiting Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford.

Published in Journal Watch Neurology November 27, 2007


Cannabis and Psychosis: Two Studies

Evidence for the association is consistent across population-based studies, and cannabis use is associated with later worsening of psychosis.

Comment: Clearly, cannabis use is associated with heightened risk for onset or worsening of psychotic symptoms. Degenhardt et al. point out that their study showed only a small increase in psychotic symptoms in people with psychotic disorders and daily cannabis use. However, cannabis use is a modifiable risk factor and is associated with increased rates of use of other illicit drugs, which may also worsen psychosis. The evidence seems sufficient to justify warning people of cannabis-associated risks and to try to minimize its use by patients with psychotic disorders.

— Deborah S. Cowley, MD

Published in Journal Watch Psychiatry September 17, 2007
As I look at these studies and my personal experience, I have many reasons to oppose loosening the reigns on marijuana use. However, I don’t think any of it would mean anything to someone who wants to get high. They are in a different world. I know; I have been there.

Philip

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