The High Cost of Getting High

A new poll shows many in the U.S. are now smoking more marijuana than cigarettes, so it’s a good time to look at what increased marijuana use means for our future.

New research further documents the adverse effects of marijuana use on the young, even in the womb.  Prenatal cannabis exposure is associated with psychopathology in childhood and adolescence.  This includes rule-breaking, aggressive behavior, bad conduct, and social problems.  Thanks a bunch, mom.

Virginia legalized recreational marijuana in 2021 and is now seeing a spike in calls to poison control centers involving the consumption of THC products derived from hemp, edibles shaped like popular candies.  Most of the calls are from teens and young adults, and others concern kids age 5 and younger.  This is exactly what critics said would happen, because it happened previously in Maine and Colorado.

Another recent study showed marijuana is almost as addictive among 12-to-17-year-olds as prescription opioids.  There is also evidence marijuana can harm developing brains and cause mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia; lower IQ; and fewer career opportunities later in life. States that legalized marijuana are seeing a rise in the number of psychotic episodes among teens who are vaping high-concentration THC products.

The adverse health effects of marijuana are not limited to the young.  Marijuana edibles also produce overdoses in adults.  High-potency marijuana is linked to psychosis and addiction in grown-ups.  We’re talking about schizophrenia, paranoia, delusions, and running down the street naked.  None dare call it Reefer Madness, but you might call it that now, given that marijuana is so much more potent than it was a generation ago.  In addition, marijuana users are 25 percent more likely to need emergency care and hospitalization.  Marijuana users are showing up in emergency rooms with nausea and cardiac issues, among other problems.

Marijuana is causing more than personal health problems.  The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes testing positive for THC has doubled since marijuana was legalized in Washington state.  Oregon legalized recreational marijuana but is now plagued by illegal pot farms allegedly controlled by crime syndicates that deplete the water and steal farm equipment.  China, not content with flooding the country with fentanyl, is involved.

Let’s give lawmakers who voted for all this the benefit of the doubt and say they didn’t realize pot is ten times stronger than it was when they were kids, and didn’t think through the unintended consequences of legalizing it or heed warnings from those who did.   They probably didn’t realize Pueblo, Colorado was the future of all this, a town where doctors say their ERs look like horror movies, other drug use is up, families and kids are failing, there’s not enough foster care to deal with the wreckage, the town is hooked on marijuana-related tax revenue, and employers can’t find enough workers who aren’t stoned all the time.

But now, evidence of marijuana’s adverse effects and unintended consequences is piling up and lawmakers have no excuse.  It’s time to rethink the entire legalization enterprise.  In addition, this entire mess is subsidized by federal Medicaid money.  It’s time to look at that, too.

©Christopher Wright. All rights reserved.

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