Buzz kill: marijuana & mental health

There are some people out there who should not use marijuana. I believe my brother was one of them.

I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret: schizophrenia runs in my family. We are genetically predisposed to this serious mental disorder. But like other diseases of the family tree, you never really know if it will develop. Just like you may never really know if you’re going to get the cancer that your relatives had.

Medical research has found that pot can be harmful to people who are genetically predisposed to mental disorders like schizophrenia. Who knows if marijuana is to blame for Evan’s mental illness and eventual suicide. I know it’s not a good idea to play the ‘what if’ game, so I won’t go there, but I don’t think marijuana helped him any. We used to think Evan’s drug use was the cause of his depression and later learned it’s actually the other way around. For many who are experiencing mental problems, using drugs is a self-medicating behavior. It soothes their suffering.

The experts say that you should avoid using marijuana if mental illness runs in your family, just like you should avoid smoking cigarettes if cancer runs in your family. Sorry to be a buzz kill. But, now that it is legal to buy pot in some states, we should share this knowledge and be aware of the potential mental health risks.

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