Ricki Torsch (MACOMB COUNTY COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH SCREENINGS PHOTO)
A quick Google search yields over a dozen results for recreational cannabis dispensaries in Macomb County, with dozens more just a short drive away.
On the one hand, the legalization of recreational cannabis over five years ago has been an economic boon. Just last year, cannabis sales generated more tax revenue than beer, wine and spirits combined (source: Crain’s Detroit Business).
On the other hand, continued efforts to destigmatize the use of cannabis – even before it became legal in Michigan – have led to a significant decrease in the perception of the risks associated with the use of cannabis among youth and adolescents in Macomb County.
In 2008, a study by the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPHY) found that nearly 76% of Macomb County ninth graders believed there were physical or mental health risks associated with smoking marijuana once or twice. per week. By 2022, this percentage had dropped to less than 50%.
For seventh graders in Macomb County, the same study showed a 22% decrease in perceived risk of cannabis use over the same time period, dropping from 80% to 58%, and eleventh graders experienced a drop of 29% from 68% to only 39. %.
The fact that fewer youth and teens across Macomb County recognize the real physical and mental health concerns associated with cannabis use is troubling on multiple levels.
Our brains continue to develop well into our 20s, and cannabis use during these formative years can have a negative and permanent impact on brain function and development – particularly around memory, learning and thinking functions. . or study from Columbia University Psychiatry shows that adolescent cannabis users “were 2-2.5 times more likely to have negative mental health outcomes and behavioral problems, compared to adolescents who did not use cannabis at all”.
As a public provider of mental health, substance use and developmental disability treatment services in Macomb County, we also see teenagers using cannabis to address feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. In reality, high doses of THC in cannabis are more likely to produce those feelings in addition to agitation, paranoia and psychosis – all of which can delay professional intervention or treatment to address underlying mental health challenges.
It should also be noted that samples of marijuana in leaf form have produced THC levels 80% – 90% higher than in the 1980s. These higher potency levels may contribute to addiction or dependence on cannabis, regardless of the beliefs of common that cannabis is not addictive. Data presented by National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that up to 30% of cannabis users experience a cannabis use disorder and that those who “start using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults” .
For parents concerned about their young or teenage children, it is important to have an open and honest dialogue about not only marijuana use, but also vaping, smoking, and underage alcohol consumption. Find out what they already know. Ask open-ended questions, listen to their concerns, and make it a recurring discussion item that builds on previous conversations to address your children’s developing and changing concerns as they age. And avoid lectures. A few smaller conversations about cannabis and other risky behaviors are more effective than one big conversation.
If you suspect that your child is using cannabis to self-medicate for an underlying mental health concern, seek professional help to intervene and create an appropriate treatment plan. For more information on the dangers of substance use for young people, visit mccmh.net/substance-use-disorder.
Ricki Torsch is a SUD Coordinator for Macomb County Community Mental Health. She has nearly two decades of experience in public health and substance use prevention. She is a two-time graduate of Central Michigan University with her bachelor’s degree in public health education and health promotion and her master’s degree in administration with a concentration in public administration and is a Certified Prevention Consultant through the Michigan Board of Certification for Addiction Professionals.