Changing Attitudes

After the war on drug in the 1980-1990’s initiative, even marijuana possession could catch a felony charge and jail time. Eventually, into the 2000’s attitudes toward marijuana softened as issues with heroin and meth, deemed “hard drugs”, became increasing problems in America. Medical applications for “medicinal marijuana”, for conditions like cancer and glaucoma, seemed to reduce the stigma even more. Decriminalization of marijuana over the last decade has reduced possession charges to a slap on the wrist and a fine that in most cases doesn’t even necessitate a court visit. With legalization of marijuana taking off for even recreational purposes it would seem that in a very short period of time marijuana will become as culturally accepted as alcohol. Although alcohol is legal, we know it is still addictive and causes countless problems in people’s lives. Given its calming effects on most users, there is arguably less negative social impact with marijuana. Many argue whether marijuana is even addictive. Let’s explore a little history of marijuana.

Potency is Rising

The potency of a drug is essentially the amount of a drug needed to generate an effect. Let’s use alcohol as a concept people are more familiar with. A 12-ounce can of beer often has an alcohol concentration, or proof, of 3-5%. Many hard liquors like vodka, may have proof of 80%. One shot of vodka (1.5 ounces) is equal to a 12-ounce beer in terms of potency. Vodka is much more potent than beer. Very little is needed to get an effect. The same holds true for marijuana, except it is harder to measure out since it is not poured into a glass and is not as regulated like alcohol.

In the 1970s marijuana potency was around 2-%, meaning the THC, the active ingredient was quite low. In those days a person might smoke half to a whole joint by themselves to achieve a typical high. Even up through 1995 studies found the average THC content was still only around 4%. Genetic engineering and selective breeding over the past 25 years have increased the potency of marijuana. By 2014 average THC content had risen to 12% with some samples ranging between 18-20%. Recent examines have found some have potency rates nearing 30%. Very little marijuana is needed to get high these days relative to 20-30 years ago.

So, Is it Addictive?

Some people are genetically predisposed to developing addictions, estimated at around 10-15% of the population. The more potent a substance is, the greater the risk of getting addicted to it, as evidenced by the rapidity with which many users find themselves addicted to crack, heroin, and meth, some of the most potent drugs out there. Marijuana is usually the second most common drug addiction people end up in treatment for, second only to alcohol. The CDC studies show that 3 out 10 marijuana users (30%) have problematic and abusive use of marijuana. 10% will likely end up addicted. The risk goes up when frequent use occurs in adolescence. NIDA reported that in 2017, four million people struggled with marijuana addiction. NIDA studies are similar to that of the CDC and reported that 9% of users develop an addiction. Adolescent users had a 17% chance of developing addiction, and among those daily users, 25-50% end up addicted. Just because you can’t overdose on marijuana does not mean that it is not addictive. That is a myth.

Maple Grove Psychiatrists

If you are unsure or concerned about your marijuana use, feel free to contact IPC so you can schedule an individual consultation with one of our psychologists or psychiatrists so we can help discuss treatment options. Please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete a thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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