You may be wondering why I am writing about marijuana
in my anti-aging newsletter today.
The reason is simple:
I care about your brain and the brain of your loved ones-
especially those under 30 whose brains are at greatest risk.
Without a healthy brain,
you may live long
but you won't have a high quality of life.
The international medical community has serious concerns
about the development of a stronger, more potent
type of marijuana- called skunk.
Skunk has been shown to increase the risk fourfold of developing -
the worst forms of mental illness- including:
psychosis- thoughts and emotions that are so impaired that
the person loses touch with reality
schizophrenia- a breakdown between thoughts, emotions
and behaviors- delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking
and speech, bizarre behavior
depression-a mood disorder that causes a persistent
feeling of sadness and loss of interest
and bipolar disorder-a mental disorder marked by
alternating periods of very high mood and depression.
They found users of skunk -
as well as those who used any type of marijuana on a daily, chronic basis -
had different structural changes in the corpus callosum-
an area of the brain, compared with those who smoked less or lower-strength strains.
Laws regarding marijuana are changing and the medical community
must accurately communicate the danger of this
more potent form of marijuana- which has never existed like this before-
as it poses a risk that may not be completely appreciated now that
the conversation regarding this plant has become so complicated.
Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in 8 states in the U.S.
as of this writing and will likely become legal in more states soon.
Marijuana or cannabis contains two main psychoactive substances:
and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC has been linked to psychosis, while CBD has been linked
to potentially protective effects against psychosis,
possibly helping to offset the effects of THC.
The CBD is what is associated with medical marijuana
and the medical benefits of the marijuana plant for some medical conditions.
The concern with skunk is the way cannabis strains have been bred over time
means they contain very high levels of THC (around 16-22% or more )
and very low levels of CBD (less than 0.1%).
This may mean the risk of mental illness, like psychosis,
could be much higher than it would be with "traditional" strains
of marijuana or cannabis.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse,
marijuana off the street in 1978 yielded an average THC potency of 1.37%.
Fastforward to 1998 and marijuana off the street
yielded on average a THC potency of 8%.
Since 2012 a significant boom has occurred in THC potency
with many strains weighing in at highs of between 20 - 25% or more of THC yields.
Growers in Britain have bred strains in which the enzyme for making THC
is more dominant, generating cannabis with much higher THC content
and much lower CBD content as a result.
The medical research finding suggests that about
60,000 people in Britain are currently living with conditions
involving hallucinations and paranoid episodes brought on
by abuse of high-potency cannabis, known as skunk.
More than 300,000 people who have smoked skunk
will experience such problems in their lifetime.
The six-year study, the first of its kind in Britain,
calculates that daily users of skunk are five times more likely
to suffer psychosis than those who never touch it.
With marijuana producers in Holland developing skunk
with even higher THC of 20%, the government of the Netherlands
has been very concerned.
They now consider marijuana containing more than 15 per cent
of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive drug
naturally occurring in cannabis,
to be so dangerous it is classed alongside heroin and cocaine.
The ban on strong marijuana or cannabis in the Netherlands,
the country that pioneered the liberal approach,
came less than three weeks after voters in the
US states of Colorado and Washington
approved measures that legalized marijuana use.
Psychiatrists internationally have said there is now an "urgent need"
for a drive to educate the public about the risks involved with
the more potent marijuana that is being developed.
It is believed that even newer varieties, some of them
more than twice as potent as those currently available
of skunk, are being developed in the U.S. and other countries as well.
Do not be fooled.
The development of stronger, more addictive marijuana is no accident.
Use of more potent marijuana creates an addiction so strong
that the user cannot go back to weak marijuana.
The marijuana of today bears very little resemblance
to the marijuana of the 1970s.
In Colorado, there is now a new variety legally available,
called Tickle Kush, that is 27% THC.
Ghost Trainwreck # 9 is reported to have 30.9% THC.
Gorilla's Glue #4 has an all time high of 33.5% THC
and is also now easily available in the United States.
The aftermath that the use of this higher potency marijuana
leaves is a mental health crisis that is now being experienced
in Europe and will soon be experienced here in the United States
as more states change their laws and people let their guard down.
This more potent form of marijuana will change brains
and especially the brains of young people under the age of 30
whose brains are at greatest risk.
This will create a youth at greatest risk for mental illness
and problems with the criminal justice system.
Public health warnings over marijuana have been extremely limited
because the drug is illegal in most countries and the conversation
regarding this plant is complicated- especially as relates to medical uses.
It is important to understand medical use has to do with
the strains of marijuana that are high in CBD
and have little to no THC, the psychoactive substance.
For example, a strain called Charlotte's Web was designed for medical purposes
to fight against epileptic seizures in children.
It contains 20% CBD and only a trace amount of THC
at less than .5% and is given as an oil based extract.
But many researchers now believe the evidence for harm
from the high potency marijuana is strong enough to issue clear warnings.
As a result of this worldwide concern, the United Nations
held a historic global meeting in NYC in April of this year
to emphasize its commitment to preventing and reducing drug use
around the world- especially among young people-
who may not understand the dangers-
especially of this high strength form of marijuana.
The campaign, Prevent. Don't Promote- is one that needs
to be shared widely to prevent a mental health crisis
in the United States and the associated problems that come with it.
I urge you to become educated about this more potent form
of marijuana and protect your brain and the brains of your
loved ones from the long lasting changes that it can cause.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the best,
Ana Casas M.D.
Board Certified, Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine