Research found a link between regular high-THC marijuana use and an increased chance of developing cannabis use disorders and tobacco dependence.
If you opt for the strongest marijuana strain possible when shopping at dispensaries, it could be time to reconsider. A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry this week found that regularly consuming high-THC marijuana and marijuana products could lead to mental health and addiction problems down the road.
Specifically, researchers reported those who consistently used high-THC marijuana were four times more likely to abuse the drug and twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders. The study’s authors added regularly consuming potent cannabis increases your chances of subsequent illicit drug use by 30%.
“To our knowledge, this study provides the first general population evidence suggesting that the use of high-potency cannabis is associated with mental health and addiction,” the study’s authors wrote.
“Limiting the availability of high-potency cannabis may be associated with a reduction in the number of individuals who develop cannabis use disorders, the prevention of cannabis use from escalating to a regular behavior, and a reduction in the risk of mental health disorders.”
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Researchers polled more than 1,000 U.K. residents who reported using marijuana in the past year. About 13% of the group, or 141 participants, self-reported using potent cannabis products. Compared to low potency users, this group was 29% more likely to have “psychotic experiences” and three times as likely to smoke tobacco. However, researchers did not discover any link to high-THC marijuana use and depression among participants.
The study had a significant limitation, the authors wrote, regarding where participants sourced their cannabis. In almost all cases, marijuana was purchased on the black market and survey respondents had no scientific way of determining the THC levels in their cannabis.
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“[W]e cannot be certain participants are accurately informed about the potency of the cannabis they are using,” the authors wrote. “It is plausible that the ability to identify type of cannabis is higher among those frequently using the drug, although evidence suggests that frequency of use does not moderate the association between self-reported identification of cannabis type and actual THC concentration in young UK cannabis users.”
Previous research has show that today’s marijuana is stronger than it needs to be. This is especially true when buying illegal marijuana, as black market producers breed cannabis strains designed to deliver the highest high to consumers in hopes they’ll come back for more. A study published earlier this year also found that 70-90% of medical marijuana products were too strong for effective chronic pain relief.