There's nothing funny about today's marijuana. It killed my son
As attorneys argued over a section of Arizona law that differentiates between marijuana and cannabis, the state’s Supreme Court justices joked about baking pot brownies in their kitchens.
They clearly do not understand how the marijuana industry has irresponsibly manipulated pot into dangerously high levels of potency.
My son could explain it to them. Or he could if he was still with us.
“I want to die,” he wrote before hanging himself at the age of 31. “My soul is already dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.”
Andy had been the class clown. He made parties come alive. He helped friends through tough times and served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq.
Then he became addicted to pot, using a medical marijuana card that enabled him to buy enough pot for up to 10 joints a day. That would keep anyone baked all day. He was hospitalized in five mental health hospitals and did two stints of court-ordered mental health treatment.
He told me that to live, he needed to quit marijuana. He just couldn’t do it.
The marijuana industry doesn’t like to acknowledge people like my son, dismissing his case as an aberration. But he is not alone, and new research shows the toll marijuana takes.
A new study shows he's not alone
The peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet last month published a major study that found people who use high-potency marijuana daily are five times more likely to develop psychosis than those who never partake. The researchers compared data for more than 2,100 people in six countries.
They defined “high potency” as over 10% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot. Ten percent isn’t all that high. Arizona’s medical dispensaries tout cannabis products — the subject of the recent Supreme Court hearings — with THC up to 90%.
The researchers concluded that up to half of first-episode psychosis cases could be prevented if high-potency marijuana were not available.
This is what Arizona’s high court justices missed when they joked about baking marijuana brownies. The low-potency marijuana of their formative years is a relic of history.
Profit-seeking companies have pushed THC levels higher and higher. They have done this primarily by extracting THC from the leafy plant and flowers to create new, high-potency products they call shatter, wax or hash.
Maybe it’s easy for the marijuana industry to dismiss my son’s suicide. But it can’t ignore The Lancet study, which notes that “our findings are consistent with previous epidemiological and experimental evidence suggesting that the use of cannabis with a high concentration of THC has more harmful effects on mental health than does use of weaker forms.”
Today’s marijuana has as much similarity to the pot brownies of the 1970s as a smart phone does to a Texas Instruments calculator. Today’s marijuana is incredibly potent, powerful enough to destroy lives.It’s not something to laugh about.