"It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth," said Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Some legalized forms of marijuana have higher levels of THC than other strains, said Alan Budney, PhD, of Dartmouth College. THC is responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. Some research has shown that frequent use of high potency THC can increase risk of acute and future problems with depression, anxiety and psychosis. "Recent studies suggest that this relationship between marijuana and mental illness may be moderated by how often marijuana is used and potency of the substance," Budney said. "Unfortunately, much of what we know from earlier research is based on smoking marijuana with much lower doses of THC than are commonly used today." Current treatments for marijuana addiction among adolescents, such as brief school interventions and outpatient counseling, can be helpful but more research is needed to develop more effective strategies and interventions, he added.
Additionally, people's acceptance of legalized medical marijuana use appears to have an effect on adolescents' perception of the drug's risks, according to Bettina Friese, PhD, of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in California. She presented results from a 2013 study of 17,482 teenagers in Montana, which found marijuana use among teenagers was higher in counties where larger numbers of people voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2004. In addition, teens in counties with more votes for the legalization of medical marijuana perceived marijuana use to be less risky. The research findings suggest that a more accepting attitude toward medical marijuana may have a greater effect on marijuana use among teens than the actual number of medical marijuana licenses available, Friese said.
Session 3163: "Considering Cannabis? Potential Public Health Implications of Marijuana Legalization," symposium, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. EDT, Room 150B, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl., NW, Washington, D.C.
Presentations are available from the APA Public Affairs Office.
Presentations and contact information:
"Neurocognitive Consequences of Chronic Marijuana Use: Preventing Early Onset Is Critical"
Krista Lisdahl at [email protected], (414) 229-7159 (office) or (262) 290-7646 (cell).
"Clinical Epidemiology, Characteristics, Services and Outcomes for Youth With Cannabis-Use Disorders"
Alan Budney at [email protected], (603) 653-1821.
"Is Legalization of Medical Marijuana Related to Youths' Marijuana Beliefs and Behaviors?"
Bettina Friese at [email protected], (510) 883-5716.
|The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.
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