Tag Archives: schizophrenia

A Father’s Warning About Chris’ Short and Tragic Life

Guest testimony by an Arizona resident

Here’s one story.  As personal and painful as it is to relate, I write this account hoping that efforts to legalize the use of recreational marijuana will be defeated.

My second son, Chris, had an outstanding secondary school career. As the youngest student in a class of 315 students, he was the valedictorian. At spring honors day, he received the American

chris-photoHistory prize, the best peace essay, a state and national scholastic writing award, the best student in mathematics award, AP Calculus award for the highest score and the Student Leadership award. But he was no nerd. He was President of the Student Council and Co-captain of the wrestling team. He had a ton of friends and he loved to backpack, kayak and rock climb. My only worry about him was his lack of fear in tackling any physical challenge.

On a holiday break in his first year at Stanford, he came home and went out with some of his friends. About a half hour later, he came running back home in a state of absolute panic. This fearless kid was terrified and in a state I hardly recognized. He thought the woods were surrounded by FBI agents and that a high school football star was trying to rape him. It turned out that the kids who picked him up were smoking marijuana. Evidently, this was not Chris’ first time. With all his accomplishments, he always tried to be one of the boys and smoking weed was what they did. I felt a tremendous sense of guilt because I hadn’t thought that it was necessary to talk about drug use with my own boys.

That night was a marker for his steady mental decline which continued even after he ceased using marijuana. Within two years, he was exhibiting full-blown schizophrenia. In his first of six hospitalizations, the doctor told us that he had a severe case and we should expect his mental acuity and his social affect to decline. The positive news according to the doctor was that Chris was high functioning enough that the decline could be tolerated. He was wrong.

The next ten years were not pretty. This thoughtful, intelligent, winsome child became extremely paranoid and sometimes violent. He heard voices continually and his thoughts became completely disordered. Once a promising writer, his journals show a steady progression from cogent essays to paragraphs and sentences that don’t make sense to jumbles of meaningless word combinations. Hospitalizations and attempts to medicate him had no effect.

At the age of 28, perhaps in a moment of lucidity recognizing what had become of him, he took his life.  Although there will never be any proof that marijuana was the cause of his schizophrenia, I believe that the first panic episode I witnessed was a precursor and initiator of his illness. This is certainly consistent with the scientific studies which suggest the correlation between early marijuana use and schizophrenia.

Proposition 205 would imprint on young people that recreational marijuana use is without risk.  No wonder that so many social agencies, medical professionals, state officials and business groups oppose its passage.

I am sure that many people smoke marijuana on a limited basis with no apparent ill effects. However, there is ample scientific evidence that marijuana use by teenagers whose brains are in the developmental stage are at risk for psychotic events which may be long term.  There is also evidence that long-term use by adults can also lead to mental impairment issues. For anyone who is interested, I can share a bibliography of over 60 scientific articles addressing the risks that early marijuana use poses.

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Editor’s Note:  It is a public health failure that we have not warned young people they are at risk for psychosis and other mental illnesses from marijuana. But as this author remarks, risks remain for those who start using marijuana as adults.  Our recent article summarizes the dangers of marijuana, and why it cannot be consumed safely by anyone.

Adult Use of Marijuana Act is Wrong for California

Proposition 64 Allows Pot Edibles and Advertising

California’s Proposition 64 is called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA. Please tell your friends in California to vote NO ON 64 for good reasons.

1)It allows pot shops sell marijuana candy and soda, near where children live. According to the Latino Report the former mayor of Downey said, “These things look just like the candy that children love, and I’m not sure why the pot industry feels the need to market such kid-friendly stuff, unless it is taking a page from the tobacco industry’s handbook.”

Pot drinks showed up the backpacks of 5th graders at a Seattle school
Pot drinks showed up the backpacks of 5th graders at a Seattle school after legalization.

The marijuana lobbyists tell voters that “drug dealers don’t card but dispensaries do.”  That statement implies that children won’t take it from their parents, which is either very naive or deliberately deceptive. All evidence is contrary.

 

2) It fails to properly protect from stoned drivers: Proposition 64’s proponents refused to include a DUI standard for marijuana. This has become a real problem in states that have legalized pot like Washington, where the percentage of traffic deaths involving stoned drivers doubled in just one year post-legalization.

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In Longmont, CO, a 20-year old driver under the influence of pot killed an 8-year-old girl riding her bike on May 20. She was coming back from school, accompanied by stepdad.

3) Stoned drivers and underage use packs a double whammy:  An under-aged marijuana user in Colorado recently killed an 8-year-old girl riding her bike.  In Washington, a 17-year-old driver killed three of his classmates while driving after he got stoned.  In the past four months, 17-year-old drivers killed bicyclists while driving stoned in three separate  fatal crashes.  Proposition 64 cannot make right the wrongs of marijuana legalization.

Marijuana Edibles available in Colorado often look like familiar candies.i
Marijuana Edibles  often look like familiar candies. Proposition 64 allows the industry to set safety standards and do the testing.

4) It puts the pot industry in charge of safety standards: Proposition 64  allows the pot lobby to set the  product safety and testing standard which  will be based on voluntary codes. That’s like putting Philip Morris in charge of tobacco regulation.

5) Increased homelessness/mental illness:  It will bring more people to the state for marijuana who may suffer from mental illness as a consequence of their drug use and end up homeless.*  California’s drug users already face the problem of homelessness.  At first glance, it seems that the West Coast has more homelessness because its warm weather attracts people. It may be that marijuana use —  most popular in the West — has caused the homelessness.

6) Proposition 64 doesn’t prohibit advertising.

7) It specifically allows convicted drug-dealing felons to get into the marijuana businesses.  (California’s current medical marijuana law does not allow these same felons to get into the business.)

The marijuana industry tells us that “Prohibition has failed.”  Legalization is a much bigger failure.  Let’s not be duped again.  Please donate to either No on 64,  to Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana (CALM).   If you want to help all states fight legalization, please support SAM Action, and its educational wing, Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

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We have failed miserably at educating why not to use drugs. It’s time for a big change in strategies, back to education in the schools.

In California, anyone who is 18 can get a medical marijuana card for the most dubious of reasons.  Some may argue that the by legalizing marijuana for adults only, the state will control its out-of-control drug dealing in the form medical pot dispensaries.  A state as big and diverse as California failed miserably with medical marijuana. What makes you think they can do any better.  Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says  California doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as Colorado, Oregon and Washington.  Then don’t legalize pot at all.

THC Increases Neural Noise in Brain Similar to Schizophrenia

Brain Fibers, Left and Right Side Brain Communication Subject of Two Studies

A study published in the December issue of Biological Psychiatry attempts to understand how the THC in marijuana creates psychosis-like effects, similar to those in schizophrenia.  A different study,  published in Europe,  looked into the brain fibers of those who use high-potency marijuana and how they differ from non-users, specifically addressing how the two sides of the brain communicate.  The authors concluded that “frequent use of high-potency cannabis is associated with disturbed callosal microstructural organization in individuals with and without psychosis.”

The American study, announced in a medical bulletin of December 3, reports that ∆9-THC increases random neural activity, termed neural noise, in the brains of healthy human subjects. The findings suggest that increased neural noise may play a role in the psychosis-like effects of cannabis. Continue reading

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Marijuana is Connected to Psychosis and Schizophrenia

11717A study from the University of Pittsburgh which denies the mental health hazards of marijuana is surprising, since there are many other scientific studies pointing to a causal or trigger relationship between marijuana use and psychosis potentially developing into schizophrenia. The Pittsburgh study is limited by its small size; reliance on self-reporting and lack of diversity.  In fact, the sample size of 408 was 55% African American and included virtually no Hispanics or Asians.  It began in 1987, when the THC in marijuana was lower.  Read Dr. Christine Miller’s article on Marijuana Myths.

Research in the UK[i] reveals than one in four serious mental disorders are a result of “skunk” (i.e. high THC pot) including Continue reading