Friday, October 24, 2014

Child Psychiatrists Discuss Impact of Marijuana Legalization

With legislation loosening restrictions on marijuana use becoming more prevalent in the U.S., researchers are investigating how its commercialization can impact society, especially youth.

Yesterday, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine presented comparative studies on the trends in cannabis use among adolescents and negative consequences associated with such use among individuals during the pre- and post-commercialization eras of medical marijuana in Colorado.

The first study, presented by Christian Hopfer, M.D. (pictured above), an associate professor of psychiatry, showed that of 560 adolescents being treated for polysubstance use disorder from 2007 to 2013, those who entered treatment after 2009 (after commercialization of medical marijuana) were more likely to have higher amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocabnnabinol—an active ingredient in marijuana—in their urine and more polysubstance use at admission, compared with individuals who accessed treatment for polysubstance abuse during the pre-commercialization era. In a study lead by Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow, data showed that commercialization of medicinal marijuana in Colorado also correlated with an increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes among drivers aged 16 and older who tested positive for marijuana use, whereas no change was seen among this category of drivers living in states without laws legalizing sale of marijuana for medical purposes.
"Commercialization of marijuana is definitely in process throughout the nation,” Hopfer pointed out. “There is a lot of capital going towards this substance…[as well as] efforts to remarket it as a more ‘upscale’ product." During an interview with Psychiatric News, Hopfer stressed that because marijuana legalization and commercialization are bound to have a substantial impact on society, it is crucial for parents, adolescents, and psychiatrists to educate themselves on the “policy changes regarding marijuana, the pharmacology of marijuana, and the effects of marijuana on adolescent development and safety."
To read more about youth and marijuana use, see the Psychiatric News articles "Research Review Prompts NIDA Warning About Marijuana Use" and "Marijuana Legalization and Young Brains: Time for Serious Study."
(Image: Psychiatric News/Vabren Watts)


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