In light of the legalization of recreational marijuana for NJ citizens age 21 and above, NJPA is focused on the need to protect adolescents and young adults to age 25 years (AYA) from the harmful effects of cannabis, particularly related to the high percentage and high dose of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on the developing brain. NJPA is also concerned about, the impact of marijuana on women of child-bearing age; racial disparities in arrests for cannabis possession; maintenance of a viable medical marijuana program; the undue influence of a cannabis industry emulating the tobacco industry in targeting AYA with false advertising; increased THC potency; and the presence of harmful contaminants.
Marijuana affects the developing brain from conception through age 25. Marijuana use before age 18 can increase psychosis by 2-4 times; lead to structural brain changes; results in cannabis use disorder in 17% of marijuana users who initiate use as teenagers; and is associated with increased school dropout, unemployment, risky sexual behaviors, and anxiety. States with legalized cannabis for recreational use have experienced increases in harmful outcomes, e.g., hospitalizations for marijuana abuse, ER visits, diversion to youth, advertising targeting youth, and youth under age 21 years apprehended for possession. Given the urgency of the situation and failure thus far to address the special needs of AYA and women of child-bearing age, immediate action is required to protect these vulnerable populations.
New Jersey Psychiatric Association recommends:
Ghosh,T., et al. (2017). Lessons learned after three years of legalized, recreational marijuana: The Colorado experience. Preventive Medicine, 104:4-6.
Margaret Haney. (2020) Perspectives on Cannabis Research—Barriers and Recommendations. JAMA Psychiatry Vol.77 (10), p.994-995.
National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 2019. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/release/2019-national-survey-drug-use-and-health-nsduh-releases
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