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Michael Swartz / February 2, 2022

Pot Is Like, Bad, Man

A new study reveals the long-term mental problems caused by Mary Jane.

Over the last 50 years, we’ve seen the “reefer madness” laid upon us by the federal government slowly erode at the state level, beginning with decriminalization measures in the 1970s that eventually made smoking marijuana on par with getting a traffic ticket. Two decades later, in 1996, California became the first state to legalize what’s become known as medical marijuana, which evolved to a point where, 10 years ago, Colorado and Washington state became the first two places to “legalize” marijuana for recreational use. It’s still a federal offense, though that’s seldom enforced for small-time users.

The one thing we don’t seem to have, though, is a long-term study detailing the effects of marijuana usage, particularly with young adults.

The federal government is in the midst of creating a possible data point, though, as it’s now on year seven of research conducted by the National Institutes of Health called the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. It began in 2015 with a cohort of 11,880 nine- and 10-year-olds, who are now approaching their last years in high school — a prime time for cannabis experimentation. While the ABCDS is not necessarily directed at marijuana use, certainly that will be a component of the eventual results.

In the meantime, Canadian researchers did a “meta-analysis” of 10 various studies, with evidence they described as “ranging from low to moderate quality.” They concluded: “Meta-analytical data on the acute effects of cannabis use on neurocognitive function have shown that cannabis intoxication leads to small to moderate deficits in several cognitive domains. These acute impairments accord with documented residual effects, suggesting that the detrimental effects of cannabis persist beyond acute intake.”

To make a long story short, in the words of PJ Media’s Athena Thorne, “Weed makes you stupid.”

Those who read this may believe by now I’m being Captain Obvious, but there’s probably a level of maturity out there among you that’s different from those who regularly get high on weed. They’re not the target audience here, but maybe they should be. (Note that I’m not speaking of those who use medical marijuana to alleviate pain from various maladies.)

Granted, many of us who are of a certain age remember a string of stoner movies featuring the comedy duo of Cheech and Chong — perhaps they inspired President Bill Clinton to try a hit, although he claimed he didn’t inhale. (Yes, that was a big issue in 1992 when he first ran, but he still won. Now people would shrug their shoulders.)

But there’s a big difference in the content of that blunt now. “Weed today is, on average, five or six times as potent as the stuff the hippies smoked back in the ‘60s and '70s,” Thorne points out. “In 1972, the average THC content in most marijuana in the United States was 3% to 4%. Today’s pot commonly has a THC content of 20% or more. Additionally, the percentage of the compound CBD has decreased, which experts say can increase the overall effect of the more potent grass.”

Based on that ratio, one doobie today is worth five to seven of those Cheech and Chong smoked back in the day. Moreover, while most schools had their small contingent of “stoners” when we graduated, the numbers now are a little bit frightening thanks to quasi-legalization. According to the CDC in 2019, a full 22% of American high school students reported using marijuana within the previous 30 days.

One effect the CDC claims for teens is “difficulty thinking and problem solving,” which is echoed by a young man interviewed as part of a new NBC News report claiming, “Marijuana use may cause cognitive impairment even when not still high.” Speaking about a college course he took during a period of regular habitual use, the man said: “The class involved acting and memorizing things and I couldn’t remember anything. It was embarrassing. I felt like I was always playing catch up. My brain was stalled.”

He may be an outlier example, but now that nearly half the states have allowed both medical and recreational marijuana, we may be finding many more youth who have issues with concentration and memory from what they considered a “harmless” high — certainly when compared to the effects of and stigma surrounding alcohol. But maybe MJ is not as safe as they have been led to believe.

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