(NewsNation) — New data suggests more people who use marijuana experience psychotic episodes. In some cases — particularly in young people — it can lead to permanent psychiatric disorders.
Truveta, an analytics firm, reports diagnoses of marijuana-induced psychosis emergency department visits increased by more than 50% between 2019 and 2020. Additionally, the rate of cannabis-induced disorder emergency visits continued to increase through 2023, while these trends were not seen with the cannabis-involved emergency department visits.
While many Americans believe cannabis is harmless, Heather Bucchas asserts the drug took her son’s life.
“His daily drug of choice was marijuana, and marijuana has the highest conversion to psychosis, more so than any other drug,” she said. “Had our son never smoked marijuana, I believe he would firmly be here today.”
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the average THC content found in cannabis has increased from 4% in 1995 to 15% in 2021, with some products advertising THC concentrations up to 90%.
Bucchas said her son, Randy, started smoking cannabis as a freshman in high school and his habit spun out of control. She also said he told her his smoking caused delusions.
Doctors who treated him said his cannabis use triggered psychotic episodes.
The Bucchas family believes marijuana took complete control of Randy’s life. Randy took his life at 21.
A 2017 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found even one psychotic episode after cannabis use increased the risk of developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder by 47%. The risk was found to be higher for those between the ages of 16 and 25.
“You have to be very careful, particularly careful, using cannabis if you have a family history of bipolar or schizophrenia because you are particularly vulnerable,” said Dr. Peter Grinspoon.
Critics argue the research should differentiate between types of marijuana and its effects on psychosis.
Doctors urge teens to wait until they’re adults to use cannabis, as it is much safer.