PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found an association ​between excessive marijuana use and self-harm among young people with mood disorders. The study included more than 200,000 young people ages 10-24.

Though the study found an association between the two, it did not find a direct cause and effect.

Psychiatrist Dr. Roger Ayres MD said young people with mood disorders could be using cannabis to try to feel better.

“In an attempt to self-medicate,” he said, “sort of unknowingly, they’re worsening the very thing that they’re trying to make better.”

It remains unclear whether excessive marijuana use is causing mood disorders or if young people with mental health issues are seeking out cannabis.

“Traditionally and for decades, the explanation for these kinds of relationships is that cannabis use is causing the harm,” said Stephen Lankenau, director of the Medical Cannabis Research Center at Drexel University, “that (for) people who use cannabis, it’s causing them to do these things, to become depressed, to engage in higher risk behaviors.”

Lankenau pointed out the study didn’t mention what portion of the participants were also using other drugs, or what qualifies as a marijuana abuse disorder.


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