Teen Marijuana Use and Mood Disorders


COLUMBUS, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Right now, it’s legal for adults to use cannabis in 15 states and the District Of Columbia … And while it’s not legal for anyone under 18, a new survey of eighth and tenth graders shows a growing number of teens smoke pot daily. Now, a newly published study suggests pot may pose serious problems for young people with mood disorders. Teen marijuana use

Recent reports have found teen marijuana use is at its highest level in 30 years with high school students more likely to smoke pot than tobacco— despite lingering questions about marijuana’s health effects. Ohio State behavioral scientist Cynthia Fontanella works with young people with mood disorders, including major depression and bipolar disorder.

“We noticed a high prevalence of cannabis use and cannabis use disorders in this population. And we were curious about what the negative effects of that was on their trajectory for mood disorders,” explained Cynthia Fontanella, PhD, of the department of psychiatry & behavioral health at The Ohio State University.

(Read Full Interview)

In a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, Fontanella detailed findings from a review of 205,000 Ohio Medicaid claims linked with death certificates for young people ten to 24. The researchers found youths with mood disorders who used marijuana were at a higher risk for self-harm and death by all causes— including overdose and homicide.

“The common misconceptions and attitudes are that marijuana is harmless, which it’s not,” Shared Fontanella.

Fontanella says cannabis use might worsen the symptoms of mood disorder and interfere with treatments. They say decreasing usage among these young people might reduce the risk.

Fontanella says a national study of mortality risk for young adults with mood disorders and cannabis would be the next step. Fontanella and her colleagues are also examining the role of marijuana laws on youth mental health.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4900

BACKGROUND: Marijuana is the third most commonly used addictive drug in the United States following tobacco and alcohol. As of 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults reported marijuana use in one calendar year. It was also found that marijuana use is more prevalent among boys than girls. According to a national annual survey of drug use and attitudes among American middle school and high schoolers, marijuana use among eight, tenth, and twelve graders actually peaked in the mid 1990s and than started to gradually decline throughout the mid-2000s. However, in 2019, researchers noted a significant spike in daily use in the younger grades. Researchers also note that the perceptions of marijuana risks and dangers have steadily declined over the last decade, contributing to the uptake in usage.

(Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-scope-marijuana-use-in-united-states)

KNOWN EFFECTS: Substantial evidence in the scientific community indicates that marijuana exposure during development can cause long-term, and sometimes permanent, changes in the brain. Several longitudinal studies suggest that marijuana use can cause functional impairment in cognitive abilities of varying degrees and/or durations depending on age at the time they began using and how much and how long they used for. Among nearly 4,000 young adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study tracked over a 25-year period until mid-adulthood, overall lifetime exposure to marijuana was associated with lower scores in verbal memory, however, there were no other cognitive abilities such as processing speed or executive function. Nonetheless, the effect on verbal memory was significant even after eliminating those who were currently using, and also after adjusting for confounding factors such as demographic factors, other drug and alcohol use, and other psychiatric conditions such as depression.

(Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-long-term-effects-brain)

NEW RESEARCH: The main perception among American teenagers is that marijuana is safer than other drugs or alcohol. For example, young adults may say, “it is harmless because it is natural,” or “it is not addictive,” or “it does not affect my grades.” But studies have proven that marijuana does have adverse effects, especially for those predisposed or already diagnosed with mood disorders such as major depression and bipolar disorder. Research shows this is because marijuana use typically causses problems with learning, feelings, and health. Even short-term use of marijuana can lead to school difficulties, problems with memory and concentration, increased aggression, car accidents, use of other drugs or alcohol, risky sexual behaviors, worsening of underlying mental health conditions including mood changes and suicidal thinking, increased risk of psychosis, and interference with prescribed medication.

(Source: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Marijuana-and-Teens-106.aspx)




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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Cynthia Fontanella, PhD, associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health

Read the entire Q&A