Anne H, Massachusetts – June 16, 2021
Before going to work in a Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary for a year and a half as a budtender, I was a mentally healthy physical therapist. I was passionate about the cannabis plant. I believed that not only was it natural, harmless, and non-addicting, but also that it was a beneficial medicine for the body and mind. I was experienced with marijuana. I thought that I knew marijuana.
After going to work for the marijuana industry and consuming its high THC products, I learned that commercialized, industrialized marijuana products are unnatural and extremely harmful. Since day one the marijuana industry, in its quest for billions of dollars, has been all about profit over health and lives.
My marijuana corporation’s CEO told us budtenders that its priority was to sell BHO (Butane Hash Oil) high THC concentrates (wax and shatter), that were over 90% THC. We budtenders were told that high THC wax and shatter were a “more medicinal way to medicate”, compared to our flower that was 20-30% THC.
When the big day finally arrived, when my corporation achieved its prime directive of selling high THC wax and shatter, I bought a gram of shatter and a dab rig from the dispensary. I went over to a fellow budtender’s house after work in order to learn how to dab because I was an old school marijuana user. I was completely clueless about dabbing and intimidated by the unfamiliar blob of shatter, the dab rig and butane torch. After inhaling my first dab hit of 98% THC shatter, my mind was overpowered with an incredibly stupefying high. I kept saying “WHOA!” over and over again between coughing fits, because I could barely handle the dab hit effects.
I should have heeded the disconcerting effects that dabbing had upon my body and brain, but being under the influence of high THC made that impossible. I immediately became hooked on dabs. High potency THC concentrates became my main method of consumption. I became a great promoter of high potency THC concentrates.
At my budtender counter, I educated and upsold high THC concentrates to customers, which included 15 year olds. I parroted what my management told me to say, that high potency THC concentrates were a “more medicinal way to medicate”.
However I began to witness harms of high THC upon co-workers and customers, who started to demonstrate escalating psychological problems, aggression and explosive outbursts. Yet I was completely incapable of perceiving the harmful effects that high THC had upon me.
High THC caused me to develop a severe marijuana addiction, a Cannabis Use Disorder. I became what the marijuana industry values and creates: one of the 20% of heavy users who consumes 80% of its products. I eventually had all 11 out of 11 characteristics of Cannabis Use Disorder. I continued to use despite experiencing alarming symptoms. After dabbing, my eyes would roll up in the back of my head and I would pass out. I would remain unconscious for some time, come to and then dab again.
Even more disturbing, I experienced onset and escalation of Cannabis Induced Psychosis: paranoia, hallucinations, and vivid daydreams of committing violent acts. First I thought about vandalizing cars. Then I imagined beating people with a baseball bat, stabbing people with a knife then shooting people. My thoughts were so terrible and my self-hatred grew so great that I began to think of ways to commit suicide.
Friends told me to stop dabbing but I felt powerless to stop and continued to dab more and more. I was caught in a high THC death spiral but was fortunate to wake up to the harms before it was too late. I quit my job as a budtender, threw out my dab rig and stopped using marijuana.
However I was far from being out of the dark woods of high THC. I went through a painful detox, losing 15 pounds in a few weeks. I was not eating or sleeping. Despite my not consuming marijuana, my mental state went from bad to worse. I used to wonder why this happened until I found research. A study shows that increased metabolism with loss of weight results in a substantial release of THC from fat stores into the blood known as “THC re-intoxification”. After having dabbed up to a gram of shatter daily for almost a year, the tremendous amount of THC stored in my fat was released.
My Cannabis Induced Psychosis worsened substantially. It went into a whole new level of bizarre and scary. I was suddenly convinced that there was an Illuminati conspiracy using 4th dimension shapeshifting reptilians to manufacture poison marijuana to bring about an apocalypse and a New World Order. Since I was the sole human on the planet who knew about this dastardly plot to end humanity, 4th dimension shapeshifting reptilians were going to find and kill me in a most brutal manner.
I became completely terrified and incapacitated. I stopped speaking. I armed myself with 4 knives 24/7 but still did not feel safe. I thought that my phone was bugged, my friends’ entire house was full of hidden cameras, and their phones were bugged. I was afraid to go out in public and be around people, because I could encounter a person who was not really human, someone who was actually a 4th dimension shapeshifting reptilian out to kill me. I began plotting ways to kill my corporation’s upper management in order to save humanity.
My friends were extremely worried about me, as my mind was teetering on a precipice, and they believed it highly likely that I would either have a complete psychotic break or kill myself. Fortunately this did not happen, for as time passed and the months went by, my mental state slowly improved and I managed to recover my mental health. When I was finally able to perceive reality clearly, I felt greatly ashamed of the delusions that I had been utterly convinced of and how close I had come to harming others.
It took a heck of a long time, but the day arrived when I no longer felt shamed into silence by what high THC dabs did to my mind. I am just one of many harmed by the marijuana industry and its unnatural, harmful high THC products. I am fortunate to have been a middle aged woman with a fully developed frontal lobe, able to survive and be a voice for those who perished from high THC, such as young Johnny Stack.
The greedy, callous marijuana industry should be shamed for its harmful ways, for the destruction it causes. If the marijuana industry continues to be at the reigns of regulation, acting with impunity for the carnage it produces, lives maimed and destroyed, the tragedy of high THC will intensify.
Caroline S, Massachusetts – June 10, 2021
Our 25 year old son is essentially lost to us right now. He has been down a long dark road that started in early high school when he began to use marijuana. He has continued to use it, but has progressed to abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs of all kinds, and has had a screen addiction for years as well.
He is bright, funny, sweet, musically talented and highly intelligent. He was brought up in a loving healthy home in which we shared values of love, service to others, and a deep faith. He had plans to pursue a medical career in order to do something significant towards helping others and make a real difference. He graduated from high school only due to a lot of support, encouragement, and push from his family and committed educators at his school,( despite the fact that his standardized test scores were the highest in his class.)
He planned to go to a good college but withdrew before classes started that fall. He later made another attempt at college but quickly flunked out.
He moved into his own apartment, was working, and the substance abuse accelerated. We counseled and encouraged him to make better choices and when he refused, we just hoped and prayed that with experience and maturity, he would grow out of this phase.
We were totally shocked and unprepared when he had a complete psychotic break over 3 years ago. He spent a month in a psychiatric hospital and came out with a diagnosis of bipolar 1 and psychosis. Since then he has vacillated between manic episodes where he has done crazy and sometimes harmful things to himself and others, and deep depression. He has been suicidal several times. He has had numerous hospitalizations, been to many treatment facilities, and run through many physicians, counselors and other mental health professionals, all of whom he has rejected as not helpful. At this time he is in a psychotic state much of the time, believes that he does not need help, and often does not allow us to be involved in his life much. He seems like a different person.
He is now in such a compromised state that he can no longer drive a car or hold a job. Our hearts are broken to see him so disturbed and so unreachable. Most of our conversations with him these days are not based in reality, yet as much as he needs help, hospitals will only keep him involuntarily when he is a danger to himself or others.
He has admitted that marijuana causes him to be “lazy and unmotivated”, which we could clearly see happening, but none of us had any idea it could cause phychosis! We also didn’t know that the THC levels in marijuana are now so much higher than they once were until we were educated by friends who have experienced this with their loved ones. We have read Tell Your Children : The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence by Alex Berenson, and numerous articles and online resources, and our eyes are now opened to this painful reality. We’ve learned much that we wish we knew then and have to fight frustration and anger at the massive and misguided push to legalize, and even more so, to elevate the use of marijuana as a benign and helpful substance.
Denise C, Massachusetts – June 2, 2021
I share my family’s story in hopes that no other family has to go through what we have experienced.
My daughter was a sweet, friendly, honor roll student and cross country athlete who loved to do charity work & help others. She was raised in a very loving family, she was very close to her younger twin sisters; she was a joy to all of us. She was admitted to all four of the competitive colleges she applied to and looked forward to a future career in Psychology or Social Work. We did talk about the dangers of drug use but with her quiet nature and being a health conscious athlete, it wasn’t something I felt I had to worry about with her. She never caused me an ounce of trouble in High School.
In fall 2016, she entered her first semester of her Sophomore year at Lesley University. When I dropped her off at the dorm, the smell of marijuana wafting through the hallways was overwhelming. When I raised my concerns to her, suggesting maybe we should look into alternative housing options, she told me it’s legal now in Massachusetts, harmless and all of the colleges are the same way and she wanted to room with her friends.
Not far into the fall semester, my daughter had her first hospitalization. She said she was feeling suicidal and mentally off but after a week in this facility she wanted to return to college. Within a short period of time, she then dropped out of school and moved in with a friend and began using THC products heavily.
In February, 2017 my daughter was admitted to Mclean Hospital suffering from another psychotic episode. At the time of her admission, THC was the only substance found in her system. She was delusional, incoherent, and experiencing suicidal thoughts. She was diagnosed with PTSD from some unknown event even to her and we were told *over and over again* that THC could absolutely in no way be responsible for her condition. After four long months in the “short term” unit, she was released with prescriptions for heavy psychiatric drugs which took her years of painful withdrawal to come off of (Subutex, Gabapentin, Prazosin, Ativan and Cymbalta). She is still suffering today.
As the years have passed, I have connected with many other parents whose children have also experienced cannabis-induced psychosis. THC was the root of my daughter’s mental illness and her life has been inexplicably altered by the fact that it was not acknowledged/understood at the time.
It is my hope that this is now recognized in the medical community and with early intervention, family education and support, other young people would receive proper treatment and not leave facilities addicted and misdiagnosed.
This is becoming a very common problem with the legalization of marijuana and the prevalent societal view that it is a harmless substance. It is my hope that Mclean as an institution is now acknowledging this and providing patients and their families with the support and guidance they need to understand this condition and properly recover from it. My daughter came a long way and had a lot of success at a long-term care facility in CT (also not covered by insurance). Not long after, she eventually relapsed, ran away and cut off all contact from friends and family. We have tried for three years to reconnect and get her the help she needs. We send financial support and receive periodic updates from the people she lives with and continue to pray that she comes back to us. She isn’t the same person she was before she became involved with mairjuana and neither are we. Her family is heartbroken.
When I see others sharing their stories that took place in the years after my daughter’s experience; I wish that I had been better informed by the medical community, that had I known the connection, that THC is NOT harmless, gotten her the appropriate care and been able to spread the word to other parents and spare them the same grief.
Tom V, Massachusetts – May 28, 2021
My name is Tom and I live in Deerfield which is a small town in Western Massachusetts. I spent my adolescent years growing up in impoverished Hispanic communities like the South Bronx in New York City, and then in Holyoke and Springfield, MA up until my late 20s. Today, I am an insurance industry consultant by trade, but more importantly I am a husband, a Dad to my one and only teenaged son, and until last year, I was a brother to one of my late mom’s five sons.
My older brother Carlos fell into the marijuana culture in his early teenaged years, and it stayed with him his entire life. It stifled his upward mobility in school, at work, and in his social and family life as it often does in our underserved inner city Hispanic communities where marijuana use rates among us often outpace those of any other race or ethnicity. His venture into marijuana also emboldened him to abuse alcohol and other drugs. Fast forward into my brother’s early 50’s and his body began to show early signs of breaking down. He was managing his conditions well enough to still be mobile and active in caring for others in their home as a Personal Care Attendant while under the care of his own local doctors. Then, in 2018 a marijuana shop opened in his home city of Northampton, MA. Influenced again by his friends and local budtenders, he suddenly stopped taking his prescribed medications in favor of “medical marijuana”. The first recreational shops on the east coast opened around Thanksgiving of 2018. My brother would be dead just a year and half later, at just 54.
When my younger brother and I cleaned out his apartment, we discovered that Carlos was storing away all of his prescribed medications, one of which prevented strokes. We found unopened prescription bottles and unopened CVS prescription bags still stapled shut, some from the very week he died. When I checked his phone to notify his friends, he had voicemails and text messages from CVS reminding him to pick up his prescriptions. None of which he intended to take because he believed marijuana would treat all of his ailments. Under his bed lay his CPAP machine, covered in dust from being ignored. Displacing his prescribed medications on his mantle and in his medicine cabinet were small bags and small plastic containers of loose marijuana as well as open cigarette boxes filled with marijuana joints.
The coroner’s report says he died of cardiac dysrhythmia. Cardiac dysrhythmia is what can occur when strong strains of marijuana are smoked or ingested as edibles. Something I‘ve seen first-hand throughout my own social circles. According to emergency room doctors in our region, marijuana in known to cause adverse cardiac events like dysrhythmias. My state of Massachusetts is legislatively pro-marijuana but what happened to my brother was a combination of unsuspecting self-harm and negligence by state legislators and regulators failing to protect my brother from this predatory industry that thrives on uncapped marijuana potencies and marketing disinformation directly aimed at vulnerable populations, like mine. Like my brother.
Don’t let what happened to my brother, happen to your brother, sister, daughter, or son. My Massachusetts legislators are too afraid to address the issue publicly. We need to vote them out. We need to demand that existing legislators tighten restrictions on cannabis sales, marketing, advertising, and use. Better yet, demand they take the stand of preventing the industry from entering our communities all together.
Kathleen K, Massachusetts – May 26, 2021
I’m the mom of four children. Marijuana use has significantly affected the development of two of them. My children were raised in a two-parent home with limited screen time, lots of exposure to sports and outdoor activities. They were alter servers and belonged to our church youth group. They worked as soccer refs and at the local orchard and volunteered at local food pantries. They were far from perfect kids but we thought we were doing most things “right” and had discussed the perils of cigarette smoking and “drugs.”
My two youngest boys, however, were just the right ages to “misunderstand” the 2012 law legalizing medical marijuana and to feel embolden by the 2016 law allowing recreational use. They were both under 21 in 2016 but both had started using as young teens so once it was “legal” they most certainly believed they were included in this new legal freedom.
For one child, it’s watching him continually fail college classes despite his achieving a near perfect score on his SATs, his having a photographic memory and being one of the top students each year until high school. He is functional in that he can hold a job but it is clear that he believes he needs marijuana to help with his anxiety. This jeopardizes his position on the track team, has led to job loses and a level of shame with each failure that draws him ever deeper into his dependency.
For my youngest child, his use cost him the vocational technical HS he longed to be at and the trade he hoped to be working at post HS. It helped to fuel a low-level drinking problem resulting in an additional dual diagnosis at age 15 (both alcoholism and marijuana disuse disorder) on top of his already diagnosed mental health disorders. Eventually, all of it resulted in a CHINs petition, a DA diversion contract and ultimately 2 years in DYS custody.
I have to say I’m blessed that neither of my boys ever developed psychosis from their marijuana use. But I’m angry and frustrated that I was one voice of accountability among a sea of voices stating that pot use was “okay” and that recreational use was “fine”. It is not “fine” or “okay” for adolescents’ period. It is not “okay” that my son attacked his brother while under the influence. It is not “fine” that my son struggles to hold down a job or face stressful situations with a clear mind. It is not “okay” that both my boys will forever experience changes to their developing brain due to their early use of marijuana. And it certainly is not “okay” that there were severely limited resources and supports in place to help me help them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated it’s guidance to include: “New research has also demonstrated that the adolescent brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex areas controlling judgment and decision-making, is not fully developed until the mid-20s, raising questions about how any substance use may affect the developing brain. Research has shown that the younger an adolescent begins using drugs, including marijuana, the more likely it is that drug dependence or addiction will develop in adulthood.” (https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/135/3/584).
Developmentally, we know that the “cause and effect” part of the brain is not fully developed till age 25. We knew this prior to passing the 2016 law. The 2016 law was crafted to match the drinking and smoking ages in part because of that knowledge. We have worked for years, as a society to curb teenage cigarette smoking and drinking. We have groups like SADD, MADD and we have created smoke free zones and increased education in schools on fact-based dangers of tobacco smoking. We ban advertising of cigarette smoking and drinking on teen focused media. The recreational law in 2016 passed without any of the teenage prevention strategies we know have worked for cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. It’s time to change that. It’s time to be honest about the dangers to our teens and use the knowledge of our pediatricians and researchers to create public service messages and in school fact-based education on the dangers of adolescent marijuana use.
From Jim D, Massachusetts – May 25, 2021
We live in a small town in Massachusetts. I am married with three boys. One of my sons started using marijuana at age 13. At first he had a casual fascination with marijuana. By age 14 his use had progressed to daily and by age 16 it became evident that he now suffered from Cannabis Use Disorder. Clearly addicted to what we all thought was a non-addictive substance, he began increasing the potency of the cannabis he was using. “Dabs, “Wax” and “Shatter” were the terms he used to describe this new highly potent form of cannabis. With THC levels up to 80%, his use of this dangerous high potency marijuana increased to two to three times per day with disastrous consequences. One day (at age 18) he suddenly became paranoid and delusional. He lost touch with reality and had to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. Since that first episode he has been hospitalized 9 times including 4 psychiatric hospital stays. Police have been called to his residence 5 times to defuse a potentially violent episode of behavior. He has a record which includes Assault and Battery with a dangerous weapon and possession of a Class E Substance. Psychosis and paranoid delusions led him to self medicate using stronger drugs including Benzodiazipines, Opioids Cocaine and Ecstasy (Molly). Today I worry that it is too late for him to recover; that his mind is a lost cause. It may be easy for some, to judge us as parents; to blame us for not seeing the signs and symptoms.
I think about this often and worry that I let my son down by not doing more. However, until you have lived this type of experience it is impossible to judge. And today, with odorless vaping cartridges delivering high potency THC and with the surge in edibles, parents have an obligation to become informed and to assist your child/loved one in gathering the facts on marijuana. This along with common sense legislation that will put significant consumer protection measures in place, will help mitigate the disastrous consequences of chronic and/or high potency cannabis use in our young adults.
Susan P, Massachusetts – May 20, 2021
I don’t use marijuana, however in 2016 I voted to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts. I thought it was a “soft” drug. I thought it was a safer option for people than alcohol. Even for teenagers. I remember telling a friend who suspected her teenager was smoking marijuana that it was probably better than if he was drinking alcohol. After all, alcohol is known to be bad for health and to cause young people to make poor decisions such as risky behavior and driving while intoxicated. It can become a dependence. But marijuana, that just “chills you out” and is not addictive. I wish I had known then what I know now.
We live in a middle class suburban town. I’m a stay at home mom who along with my husband did my best to raise our children to make good choices, have decent values, and be contributing members of society. I wanted to be realistic with teaching the kids about drugs. I drilled it into them to never try a “hard drug” such as cocaine or heroin because it “only takes one time to ruin your life”. I told them never take a pill or anything you don’t know what it is and warned them that even though this is something a lot of youths might do it could be such a “grave decision”. While I never allowed it or gave a message that it was okay, I also never spoke negatively about marijuana. I had the mindset of maybe if I only drilled the negativity of “horrible” drugs they might actually listen rather than the just “don’t do drugs” and “all drugs are bad”. Again, I wish I had known then what I know now.
Our oldest son who is kind, independent, and a very intelligent out of the box thinker had dreams to attend college and become an entrepreneur. His senior year started with him doing great in school, working a part time job, and planning to go off to college the next year. Near the end of his senior year he couldn’t work and was barely able to attend school due to his sudden extreme anxiety and paranoid and delusional thinking. Fortunately, because it was so close to the end of the year and he had done well for most of the year, he managed to still graduate even with missing most of the last weeks of school and all of his finals. He did not however attend any senior events including graduation. He could barely leave the house at this point. We thought he had had a nervous breakdown. We didn’t even know what psychosis was at this point. The search started to find him help, which was not easy because he was now an 18 year old who did not want help. I did find a psychiatrist who would talk to me even though his practice was booked solid and my son was an “adult” and the first thing he said was “does he smoke a lot of pot, because we are seeing a huge problem with teens who smoke that are becoming depressed and lacking all motivation”. I did know that my son had used marijuana, I had caught him a few times, but I only thought it was occasional and part of the usual teenage experimentation. I still did not think it had anything to do with his “breakdown”. We finally ended up at a major hospital in Boston and he was eventually diagnosed with psychosis and anxiety. At this time he was still not honest about his marijuana use and the doctors only casually mentioned that it could be a contributing factor. Because the connection was not made, he continued to use even with going on anti-psychotic meds because it made him feel better in the moment. Fast forward over two years with some ups and downs, med changes, trying to go away to college, and a doctor change we finally got to a place where we really understood the possible connection between his marijuana use and the psychosis. Once we understood this, our son opened up about how much, how long, and how early he starting using marijuana. Apparently, he had been using for over a year and had quickly moved from smoking it, to vaping it (no smell so easier to hide), to dabbing it (also easy to hide). The problem is the vaping, eating, and dabbing of marijuana can be at so high of a concentrated level of THC it is nothing close to the amount in a plant one would smoke (and even today’s plant concentration levels are way higher then they were 20-30 years ago). Research is showing that these higher concentrates correlate with a higher risk factor for developing cannabis induced psychosis. Again I wish I had known then what I know now.
Once our son was able to make these connections and be honest about his use, his hospital team was able to help him more. He quit using cannabis, has started working full time, and he is starting to see his anxiety improve. This took over two years because we did not make the connection. Now, unfortunately because he kept using for those two difficult years, it may be too late to reverse the effects. Research shows that the sooner one is treated for first episode psychosis the better the outcome. If left untreated and cannabis use continues, the cannabis induced psychosis can turn into full blown schizophrenia. Our son’s doctors will take the next year or so and slowly wean him off the anti psychotic medication to see if it is too late for him or not. This only became an option once the doctors knew how much cannabis he had done (they now made the connection that this is likely cannabis induced psychosis) and once he was truly committed to not using anymore (they would not even consider reducing his anti-psychotic medication while using cannabis because of the connection with cannabis and psychosis) . This risk of cannabis induced psychosis is not very well known to the public. The marketing of cannabis products that advertise it as safe and healing make it even more difficult to make the connection. I still believe people should make their own choices if they want to purchase and use products with THC. BUT, I believe that if we as a commonwealth are going to allow this it is our responsibility to make it known and clear the possible risks of doing so. Not just so people can decide if the risk is worth it, but also so that they can recognize if and when a negative side effect occurs. Again I wish I had known then what I know now.
Jahnu P, Massachusetts – May 18, 2021
We are a first generation immigrant family. We migrated to America for a brighter future for our children. We worked tirelessly so we could afford to move to a town with top notch public schools. It was all going according to plan until our eldest son got to high school. We notice his grades starting slipping. His attitude towards the family also started to change. Since he was our oldest child, we attribute the change to normal teenage behavior. However, by 11th grade, it had become obvious there was something very abnormal happening. He started to threaten to kill people. He started getting violent and destroying things around the house. Additionally, he’d find the smallest of reasons to skip school. As a family, we had placed the highest priority on education. I started to look all around for the answers. I reached out to friends and family, his school guidance counselor. Through the process, I learned how kids are innocently roped into drugs by consuming what appears to candies, but laced with marijuana. My son has always been a very unassuming child. He tries hard to fit in. We suspect this path led him down to vaping. Our fears were confirmed when we found vaping pens and cartridges hidden in his backpack. When confronted, he would always make excuses that it did not belong to him. The harder we tried to separate him from hanging around with his friends and vaping marijuana, the more he started to rebel. We tried to control his afterschool activity, but he always figured out a way to stay after school for one reason or another. Several times after an argument, he’d leave the house in winter without proper clothing. He was willing to freeze to death but not give in.
At that point, we had to ease up. We started to seek professional help. We got him to accompany us a few times but then subsequently refused to go. It’s hard to force a 17 year old to do something against his will. We continue to preach about the dangers of marijuana use/vaping. The damage that is already done is hard to reverse. He continues to struggle along in academics and life in general. Our childhood dreams of him have been shattered. Additionally, this has caused severe distress within the family. My wife has developed anxiety as a result of this experience. This was a wake up call for us. We are immigrant, well educated, middle class, strict hindu, vegetarian, non alcohol consuming, never exposed to any type of drug use family. There are no stereotypes or bounds, this can happen to anybody.
Tammy H, Massachusetts – May 12, 2021
Our 18 year old son walked in the front door. We were surprised to see him. Our son always worked on Monday nights from 5:00-9:00 pm. I asked him, “What are you doing home? It’s only 7:00.” His response was, “I don’t know.” I said, “What do you mean you don’t know? Didn’t you go to work?” He said, “I don’t know.” I inquired, “Are you sick? Did they send you home from work sick?” He said, “I don’t know.” Turns out our son had vaped marijuana multiple times that day, including earlier at school, after school, and just before he walked in the front door. Our teenage son was experiencing cannabis induced psychosis (CIP) for the first time.
THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, can cause psychosis which is a mental health condition that occurs when a person begins to lose touch with reality and may experience visual or auditory hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, or disorganized thinking. Our teenage son had vaped a lot of marijuana that day. He was experiencing mental confusion, auditory hallucinations, and delusions. He didn’t know if he had been to work or not. He believed his lap top and the TV were directly speaking to him. Earlier that day at school he had heard music playing in the classroom when there actually wasn’t any music playing. He was beginning to lose touch with reality as a result of vaping high potency THC.
Our journey officially began 14 months earlier when our son was given marijuana to try at a high school party in the fall of his junior year. He had just turned 17. We found out two weeks later when he didn’t come home one Saturday night. We didn’t know where he was. We frantically tried texting and calling him. He finally responded. He was high on marijuana and couldn’t drive home so we picked him up. The next day we talked with him and told him that we didn’t think he should use marijuana. He told us that it was too late because he “loved the way marijuana made him feel.” After that conversation I called our pediatrician and he recommended a drug counselor whom our son saw reluctantly about 4 times. Our son agreed to only use marijuana occasionally on weekends with friends. He told us, “Everybody is using marijuana.” Unfortunately, he quickly became addicted to marijuana and within months of trying it, he was vaping marijuana daily. Just a year after he started using marijuana he developed cannabis induced psychosis.
As a result of treating his cannabis induced psychosis, our son also became addicted to benzodiazepines which were prescribed to him to treat the nasty side effects from the antipsychotic medication prescribed to him to treat the psychosis. Later that same year he had a grand mal seizure and almost died. The neurologist attributed the seizure to benzodiazepine withdrawal. Luckily for us a nurse who was nearby at the time of the seizure rushed to his aid and cradled him in her arms. When the seizure ended our son’s body went limp and his heart stopped. He was in cardiac arrest. The nurse performed CPR and saved his life. He was rushed by ambulance to an Emergency Room at a top Boston hospital. This happened on his 19th birthday. We almost lost him that day.
Before the cannabis induced psychosis, our son was an excellent student. He had been admitted to multiple universities and received scholarships. The cannabis induced psychosis interfered with his ability to concentrate on his high school work. His grades and attendance suffered after he experienced the cannabis induce psychosis half way through his senior year of high school. He ended up not starting college that fall as planned. He has a severe cannabis use disorder (CUD). By definition, a cannabis use disorder is the continued use of cannabis in spite of the serious distress or impairment it causes. As a result of his recent drug use, he has lost two jobs, was evicted from his apartment, his license was suspended, and he has lost friendships.
How has my son’s marijuana use affected me? I have had many sleepless nights worrying about him. I worry if he will be able to overcome his cannabis use disorder? I worry if his cannabis induced psychosis will be permanent? I worry if he will be able to support himself financially? I love my son very much and I hope he will be able to conquer his marijuana addiction. Sadly, it has caused him and our family great harm.