New Study: Use of High Potency Marijuana Increases Risk of Anxiety Disorders

Today’s highly potent marijuana drastically increases the risk of mental health issues according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The study, conducted with 1,087 twenty-four-year olds who reported recent marijuana use, found that users of high potency marijuana were four times more likely to abuse the substance and twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders.

“Studies such as this continue to prove what we have been saying for some time: today’s pot is light years away from the weed of Woodstock,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “As we have routinely pointed out, the science behind today’s pot is sorely lacking. As it catches up, we are certain to see more studies such as this.”

In addition to increases in anxiety, the study also found that users of high potency marijuana were more likely to use the drug once a week, twice as likely to have used other substances in the past year, and more than three times as likely to be tobacco users.

Marijuana commonly used in the 60’s, 70’s, and even 90’s barely registered above 4% THC content. Today, following the commercialization of the drug, average THC content has exploded some 500%. Average marijuana “buds” can feature up to 30% THC while marijuana concentrates can contain upwards of 99% THC.

As the science struggles to catch up with the rising potency of today’s marijuana, we are only seeing the first signs that marijuana use has become much more harmful to the human brain. Last year, a ground-breaking study confirmed a link between the use of high potency marijuana and greater rates of psychosis at the population level. Daily users of high potency pot were more than 4x more likely to develop psychosis.

“When it comes to tobacco, we didn’t see truly drastic harms until big corporations saw the potential for massive revenues and started altering tobacco to make it more addictive,” continued Dr. Sabet. “We are beginning to see the same take place with marijuana. A massive industry, ironically featuring billions in investment from Big Tobacco, is working to expand marijuana commercialization while also driving up THC content. Meanwhile, warnings from public health researchers and experts are ignored. We cannot allow this to continue.”

The contribution of cannabis use to variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across Europe (EU-GEI): a multicentre case-control study

Findings: Between May 1, 2010, and April 1, 2015, we obtained data from 901 patients with first-episode psychosis across 11 sites and 1237 population controls from those same sites. Daily cannabis use was associated with increased odds of psychotic disorder compared with never users (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 3·2, 95% CI 2·2–4·1), increasing to nearly five-times increased odds for daily use of high-potency types of cannabis (4·8, 2·5–6·3). The PAFs calculated indicated that if high-potency cannabis were no longer available, 12·2% (95% CI 3·0–16·1) of cases of first-episode psychosis could be prevented across the 11 sites, rising to 30·3% (15·2–40·0) in London and 50·3% (27·4–66·0) in Amsterdam. The adjusted incident rates for psychotic disorder were positively correlated with the prevalence in controls across the 11 sites of use of high-potency cannabis (r = 0·7; p=0·0286) and daily use (r = 0·8; p=0·0109) (Lancet Journal)

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Cannabis in Medicine: An Evidence Based Approach

Editors: Finn, Kenneth (Ed.)



  • A comprehensive compilation of multiple facets of cannabis from a medical perspective

Kenneth Finn, MD; Springs Rehabilitation, PC; Colorado Springs, CO, USA

Graduated Medical School from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston (’90). Completed residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation from the University of Utah (’94). Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (’95), Pain Medicine (’98), and Pain Management (’00). Practicing medicine in Colorado Springs since 1994. Serves on the American Board of Pain Medicine Exam Council (’01), Appeals Committee (’14), and Executive Board (’14).  President-Elect of the American Board of Pain Medicine (’20).   Served on the Colorado Governors Task Force on Amendment 64, Consumer Safety and Social Issues Work Group (’12) and served 4 years on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council (’14-’18). Executive Board member El Paso County Medical Society (’14-’18). Helped Colorado Medical Society and Colorado Pain Society develop their position statement on cannabis (’18) as well as the El Paso County Board of Health (’14) and Medical Society (’14) on their statements. Voluntary clinical instructor for the University of Colorado Medical School-Colorado Springs Branch (‘17-’20).

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Perinatal THC exposure via lactation induces lasting alterations to social behavior and prefrontal cortex function in rats at adulthood

Neuropsychopharmacology (2020) Cite this article

Abstract: Cannabis is the world’s most widely abused illicit drug and consumption amongst women during and surrounding the period of pregnancy is increasing. Previously, we have shown that cannabinoid exposure via lactation during the early postnatal period disrupts early developmental trajectories of prefrontal cortex maturation and induces behavioral abnormalities during the first weeks of life in male and female rat progeny. Here, we investigated the lasting consequences of this postnatal cannabinoid exposure on synaptic and behavioral parameters in the adult offspring of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-treated dams. At adulthood, these perinatally THC-exposed rats exhibits deficits in social discrimination accompanied by an overall augmentation of social exploratory behavior. These behavioral alterations were further correlated with multiple abnormalities in synaptic plasticity in the prefrontal cortex, including lost endocannabinoid-mediated long-term depression (LTD), lost long-term potentiation and augmented mGlu2/3-LTD. Finally, basic parameters of intrinsic excitability at prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons were similarly altered by the perinatal THC exposure. Thus, perinatal THC exposure via lactation induces lasting deficits in behavior and synaptic function which persist into adulthood life in male and female progeny.

Discussion: Here, we have discovered that perinatal exposure to THC via lactation induces significant behavioral and electrophysiological alterations lasting into adulthood. Specifically, we found that this THC exposure alters social behavior, as well as synaptic plasticity and basic parameters of cell-excitability in the PFC of adult male and female offspring of dams given THC during the first 10 days of postnatal life.

…Our results indicate that perinatal THC exposure via lactation induces lasting deficits at multiple scales which persist into adulthood. THC-exposed offspring exhibit increased social exploration at the cost of discrimination, coupled with significant alterations to multiple forms of plasticity in the PFC which are normalized via enhanced basal 2-AG ex vivo. Increased excitability of principal neurons of the PFC may underlie or accompany these issues, and further investigations are required to further characterize the extent to which basic synaptic transmission may be impacted by this early life exposure. Further, both an increased breadth of behavioral investigations as well as extended characterizations of plasticity and synaptic functions in these animals in other brain regions are necessary to provide a more thorough picture of the extent to which perinatal cannabis exposure induces lasting deficits in brain function into adulthood.

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Beware the Side Effects of Medical Marijuana

 May 2020

Many celebrities have stories about unfortunate side effects from smoking marijuana. Jennifer Lawrence says that at Ellen DeGeneres' 60th birthday bash: "I entered a different universe. Security is grabbing me because what I hadn't realized is I am grabbing this woman by the shoulders, shaking her, screaming."

And Kirsten Dunst says that while filming "Woodshock" the crew substituted real weed for stage weed: "I was a total mess."

Those are party-pot problems, but even people prescribed medical marijuana for pain management, to ease glaucoma, or to soothe nausea associated with chemotherapy are at risk for significant negative side effects.

Marijuana can have serious interactions with more than 20 different drugs, and moderate interactions with almost 300, according to

It can also trigger anxiety and paranoia, as reported by study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research. Scientists at the University of Washington discovered that more than half of 1,500 students surveyed had experienced anxiety and/or paranoia while using cannabis. Coughing fits, chest/lung discomfort, and body humming affected a subset of students 30% to 40% of the time.

But short-term repercussions aren't the only newly discovered side effects. Lab-based research shows that THC (marijuana's psychoactive ingredient) keeps fertilized eggs from maturing by interfering with gene expression.

And yes, smoking pot does increase the risk of serious infection with COVID-19.

For complete article Read Newsmax: Beware the Side Effects of Medical Marijuana |

The State of Cannabis Research Legislation in 2020 (USA) – New England Journal of Medicine

As growing numbers of Americans use federally unregulated cannabis products and develop complications — such as psychosis, cannabis use disorder, and electronic-cigarette, or vaping, product use–associated lung injury (EVALI) — the need to facilitate research on the products that our patients purchase from dispensaries is becoming increasingly pressing.

Patients in our clinics routinely report using vape pens, dabs, waxes, edibles, and oils purporting to contain various concentrations of cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Physicians register patients to obtain medicinal cannabis, counsel them on safe use of cannabis products, and monitor them for side effects of such products, yet they don’t have access to reliable evidence on the effects of the products that patients are using.

This dilemma was underscored by witnesses from federal agencies who testified before the House subcommittee. To date, 33 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis for medicinal use. Other states, predominantly in the Southeast, have laws allowing people with certain medical conditions such as cancer to possess products that contain CBD and low concentrations of THC. The majority of Americans now live in a state where use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes is legal, despite cannabis’s designation as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

They added that both the NIH and the FDA support enabling researchers who hold a Schedule I license to study cannabis to obtain products from state sanctioned dispensaries. Their recommendations, however, have not resulted in proposed legislation that would support researchers who want to conduct clinical trials using products obtained from dispensaries

The state of cannabis research policy in 2020 resembles that of the previous decade: there is still only a single grower officially allowed by the DEA to produce cannabis for research purposes, and researchers lack appropriate access to commercially available products for clinical trials. We believe that it is important to facilitate research on cannabis products that patients are currently using in order to mitigate potential harms

This burden could be alleviated quickly, and allowing multiple investigators to work under a single institutional license would increase the amount and quality of cannabis-related research. The government could take this step without removing appropriate controls on cannabis access and distribution.

Although the campaign for rigorous research involving clinical trials of commercial products is moving in the right direction, progress has been slow. In the meantime, our patients continue to use various state-sanctioned cannabis products marketed as medicines in the absence of evidence to support their benefits or define their harms. We believe that the federal government should create prompt and practical ways for investigators to study the products that patients are using. We cannot wait for another public health disaster like the EVALI outbreak to push us forward.

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