Letter to the Editor: Steven L. Jaffe M.D.
Letter to the EditorOpinion

Letter to the Editor: Steven L. Jaffe M.D.

The AJT welcomes your letters. If you would like your letter to be published, please write 200 words or less, and send it to editor@atljewishtimes.com.

Letter to the Editor,

Responding to “What Fuels Teen Addiction?”

In this article, marijuana is presented as a benign social drug. I suggest that this ignores not only clinical experience but also hundreds of scientific studies.

Marijuana can have severe negative effects especially among the 6% of high school seniors that smoke every day. Its most significant effect for adolescents is on impairment of cognition. Working memory, which includes short-term memory, is almost always involved. Attention, information processing, judgment and decision making may also be affected. Learning is impaired, and there is a study that shows heavy marijuana use in adolescence correlated with a loss of 5–8 IQ points on follow-up a few years later. Regular marijuana use in adolescence increases the risk for depression, suicide attempts, anxiety and even psychosis. Smoking marijuana impairs driving, and there has been a marked increase in marijuana-related driving fatalities since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

Vaping marijuana is now common among teens. While the marijuana in joints may be from 5 to 10% concentrate, the cartridges for vaping contain THC concentrations of 80 to 90%. I have seen many teenagers who begin smoking joints a few times a week progress to vaping high-concentrate marijuana two to three times a day. At this point, they can no longer function in school and smoking marijuana has taken over their lives. At the Atlanta Insight Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Abuse Program, where I have been clinical director for 20 years, over 20% of the hundred adolescents/young adults that we treat each year are now in treatment for marijuana dependency.

Your readers should be made aware that the largest investor in legalizing marijuana is the tobacco industry, and that legislatures can decriminalize marijuana without legalizing its production and sale.

Steven L. Jaffe M.D.

Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Morehouse School of Medicine

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