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 10th 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.
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, of the department of psychiatry & behavioral health at The Ohio State University.
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,” Fontanella said.
Fontanella said 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.
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