It’s not that the country is on a suicide note, but that there’s little to no national conversation about marijuana and its potential negative health effects, according to researchers.
In a series of new studies, published online Monday in the journal Health Affairs, researchers from Duke University and the University of Michigan looked at the health impacts of marijuana and compared them to those from other drugs such as alcohol and tobacco.
“The marijuana use of young adults in this country is much more prevalent than the alcohol and other illicit drugs, but not as prevalent as the tobacco use, or even the tobacco smoking,” said study author Matthew Biernacki, an associate professor of public health and public health policy at Duke.
“The marijuana consumption and the marijuana use patterns in this population, they’re really close.
There’s a lot of overlap.”
For the study, Biernis team analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which was conducted between 2014 and 2016.
It is one of the oldest surveys of its kind and covers all U.S. adults ages 12 and older.
The data, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, found that more than half of all U of M students in 2016 reported that they had used marijuana.
That compares to less than half the alcohol use among adults aged 12 and younger, which is more than two times the number of teens who reported using marijuana in 2016.
More than one in three students aged 12 to 19 reported using cannabis, and more than one-third reported using alcohol, including about one-quarter of high school students.
The study also found that marijuana use is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety, and is more prevalent among people who have had mental health problems in the past.
It also found marijuana use was associated with lower scores on a personality trait known as neuroticism.
While marijuana use has been linked to depression and other mental health conditions, Biersens team says the links are more pronounced among young adults.
The researchers found that the mental health effects of marijuana use were not only stronger among young people, but also more prevalent in their family, friends and peers.
The authors say the effects of cannabis are similar to the negative effects of alcohol, and that more research is needed to better understand how marijuana can impact people’s lives.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has said that research is necessary to determine the extent to which marijuana may have health benefits.