State Headliners: In pot-legal Oregon, schizophrenia a real and growing problem

By Guy Page

Pot-legal Oregon is seeing more young people suffering from psychosis due to heavy marijuana consumption as adolescents, reports the Mail-Tribune, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Oregon newspaper.

Oregon is further along the legalization process than Vermont, which allowed personal possession and recreational use this year and is considering licensed cultivation and sale of marijuana. In Oregon, marijuana may be sold in stores and grown and possessed for personal use. Possession became legal in 2015 and commercial sale in 2016. In 2017, an estimated 128,000 Oregonians (mostly young adults) consumed marijuana more than once daily.

“A string of studies has shown a link between marijuana use and the development of schizophrenia. Researchers estimate 8 to 15 percent of cases of schizophrenia are caused by adolescent marijuana use, says Dr. John Mahan, Jackson County Mental Health psychiatric medical director,” the Nov. 11 Mail-Tribune reports.

Oregon also has also reported more emergency room visits for marijuana poisoning, more burns related to cannabinoid oils, and more marijuana-related traffic accidents. These and other negative social indicators are under review by the Vermont Marijuana Commission as it prepares its first draft conclusions and recommendations on commercial sale of marijuana. The first draft is due out later this month.

More details linking pot consumption with mental illness, as reported by the Mail-Tribune:

Mental health workers at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center’s psychiatric unit have noticed more people coming in with marijuana-induced psychosis…..’“It seems like we are seeing an increase in particularly young men with first-break psychosis and positive urine drug screens for marijuana. And these are people who are self-reporting high uses of marijuana, high THC-content marijuana,” says Laurel Madrone, clinical manager for Asante’s Behavioral Health Unit in Medford….Young people with no history of mental illness themselves or in their families are experiencing delusions and hallucinations, Madrone says.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Ahovsoyan

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