Marijuana use in adolescence increases risk of depression and suicidality in young adulthood
As marijuana use becomes increasingly normalized and liberalized, more and more adolescents are initiated into using the drug with serious implications for the healthcare system and public health. Confirming what those of us in the prevention community have long known, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry found that marijuana use in adolescence was associated with increased risk of depression and suicide in young adulthood (18-32 years of age). After pooling data from 11 studies of over 23,300 individuals, researchers found that compared to non-users, adolescents who used marijuana were 40% more likely to suffer from depression, 50% more likely to experience suicidal ideation, and 250% more likely to attempt suicide in young adulthood.
Proponents of legalization often argue that alcohol and tobacco are legal even though they are responsible for far more deaths than marijuana. That is true. However, it is precisely because they are legal and widely accessible that they are so deadly. Do we want to add yet another legal intoxicant that has been linked to a number of negative health and social consequences at the individual and population levels? Two wrongs never make a right. Adolescent use of marijuana increases risk of suicidality by 250%. If the nation’s entire population of approximately 25,000,000 adolescents had access to recreational marijuana in the context of legalization, we could expect to see big increases in future suicides among young adults that are directly attributable to marijuana use. That is far too high a price to pay.