Marijuana and Mental Illness Research

"If I knew marijuana would make me go crazy I never would have tried it."  - K. Anderson, co-author of A Night In Jail

Because pot is being legalized in more and more states, many young people assume it must be safe. However, when used by people whose brains are still developing (up to age 25) there are several risks, one of which is developing a mental illness. Recent studies have shown this vulnerability, and the tragic correlation is starkly illustrated by the life of my brother, K. Articles, websites, and videos, like the ones below, inspired my brother and me to bring his story to the public.


Please go here to see the full article by Reporter Teny Sahakian provides links to data that support my assertions about mental illness, homelessness, and the harms to California's environment. This is not a Red or Blue issue. It's a human issue. An environmental issue.

Dr. Daniele Piomelli was kind enough to meet with me when I was doing a series of interviews about marijuana and mental illness on a social media app. It is a prized interview for me because Dr. Piomelli was a member of the National Academy of Science who published this gold-standard report on the health effects of marijuana. Note: Dr. Piomellis says regular use of 8% THC increases a person's risk to develop schizophrenia later on in life. In California, a joint is about 23% THC. Kids are vaping and dabbing THC at 60-99% THC. The higher the potency, the greater the risks.

This fascinating 17 min presentation is by Dr. Eric Messamore (he has been quoted by our U.S. Surgeon General and AP News). Dr. Messamore discusses what marijuana does to the brain. This was part of a longer presentation, which was co-sponsored by Heidi and Behavioral Health Services. To see the full video, go here: Preventing Addiction, Mental Illness and Homelessness .mp4 and Teny Sahakian kindly reached out to me for a second time to ask what our country needs to know about legalization as it continues to spread. I was able to describe how the industry promises regulation, but then fights it down. Additionally, I reported first-hand knowledge that the government is not forcing the industry to protect public health.

Two-minute video: Anne Hassel used to work at a marijuana dispensary. She was a true believer in the plant as medicine and wanted to help others. She became a "budtender". Shortly after working in the dispensary, Anne became addicted to the new high potency products and suffered severe psychological effects.

Sally Schindel on Fox News
Sally, from, lost her son to suicide. Andy served in our military and did not have PTSD. His note said: "Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain"

Kalie Guse' was in a cannabis-psychotic state. She thought things were happening which were not. Afraid, she left her home and hasn't been seen since.

Dr. Miller explains the science that proves marijuana can cause psychosis.

Ethan Andrews had a harrowing experience with Cannabis-Induced Psychosis. In this podcast, he tells Aubree Adams, the founder of, his story in detail. His descriptions of psychosis are vivid. I especially appreciate his story because today he is sober and doing well.

Dr. Roneet Lev and I worked together to get mental health risks added to warning labels on THC products here in California. We saw how successful Colorado was at providing warning did they do it? Hear Dr. Lev's interview Dr. Libby Stuyt. Dr. Stuyt was instrumental in getting warnings, and other regulations, for Colorado consumers. It's a fantastic & educational interview.

Studies and Articles


Every Brain Matters Logo
The International Academy on the Science and Impact of Cannabis (IASIC) counters the pervasive misperception of the safety of marijuana by international experts who provide science, data and clinical expertise. This non-partisan and non-political group is developed, organized, and guided by doctors. They hope science guides policies that protect the public and create informed decision-making.

Every Brain Matters Logo
Every Brain Matters. I am a member of this organization which unifies organizations and individuals that educate about the dangers of marijuana and the drug culture expansion. They call for a cultural movement by encouraging widespread use of Every Brains Matters merchandise to bring visual public awareness, and by promoting optimal brain and environmental health.

Safe Launch Healthy Futures Logo
Safe Launch Healthy Futures. Stopping the disease of addiction before it starts to ensure healthy futures for America's teens. They have a remarkable program called Flights Above Addiction. This is a traveling teen art and aviation program that informs communities that addiction is a preventable chronic brain disease contracted in adolescence 90% of the time.

Parent Movement 2.0 Logo
One Choice Prevention. The goal for One Choice is preventing or delaying all substance use by teens reduces the risk of later addiction as adults. They have a very simple message: To ensure good health, a kid really has ONE CHOICE: no use of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs under age 21.

Jennifer's Messengers Logo
Jennifer's Messengers. There are many misconceptions about driving while high. My friend, Corrine La Marca, lost her daughter, Jessica, to a driver who was high. She began this organization in her honor. Jessica's Messengers is sounding the alarm about marijuana-impaired driving dangers.

Parent Movement 2.0 Logo
Parent Movement 2.0. What a parent thinks about their child using drugs is an extremely important factor in their child's decision whether or not to use. Information like this is provided on Parent 2.0. It gives parents the most up-to-date information we need to know about drugs. They send out emails once or twice a month with articles and studies. Their mission is: Helping parents help their kids navigate away from marijuana, alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs through education and advocacy.

Logo Parents Opposed to Pot
Parents Opposed to Pot. The cannabis grown and sold today is not the same drug as was available in the 1970s. The average THC has increased to more than 15%. Cannabis issues can clearly lead to addiction. The damage to the brain from chronic use is worse compared with the chronic use of heroin. Among the negative effects of long-term cannabis use in adolescence include neuro-psychological dysfunction, decline in IQ, short memory, among others.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Smart Approaches to Marijuana. We are professionals working in mental health and public health. We are bipartisan. We are medical doctors, lawmakers, treatment providers, preventionists, teachers, law enforcement officers, and others who seek a middle road between incarceration and legalization. Our commonsense, third-way approach to marijuana policy is based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.

Moms Strong
Moms Strong is a support group partnering to inform and educate those harmed by marijuana. We are not funded by industry or the government, rather by parents as we hope to spread awareness and prevent tragedies as we’ve experienced.

One Chance to Grow Up
One Chance to Grow Up was started by Smart Colorado. They have been at the front lines to protect kids since 2013. They've shared their information with me (and other allies) to help us protect kids.

Logo Parents Opposed to Pot
Smart Colorado recently traveled to California and Nevada to photograph adult-use marijuana products for their initiative. Their site is to used to help educate that marijuana is not just a plant. Smart Colorado says: "It is time to end the practice of illustrating all marijuana related-news stories and educational materials with the same overused photos of a marijuana plant. The public deserves to be informed about the wide variety of products and the THC potencies sold in legal adult-use marijuana markets. This collection of photographs also illustrates that, as of 2020, there is no consensus on health and safety laws regarding adult-use marijuana. State laws differ on individual serving sizes of THC, total THC limits, packaging, wrapping, and marking of products." While in California and Nevada, Smart Colorado obtained 25mg THC tablets and a 500mg THC mouth spray, both products that would be illegal in Colorado's adult-use market.

Johnny's Ambassadors
Stop Teen Suicide by THC! Johnny's Ambassadors works to educate parents and teens about the dangers of dabbing high-potency marijuana extracts and their impact on adolescent brain formation, mental health, and teen suicide.

Other Side Of Canibus
The Award-Winning film, The Other Side of Cannabis: Negative Effects of Marijuana on Our Youth, will help you to understand today’s marijuana through interviews with researchers and other professionals, as well as individuals whose lives were negatively impacted by this drug.

Evidence for Storytelling and Drama Therapy in Prevention Education

Storytelling Changes Attitudes and Behaviors

"Many business people have already discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can be. But recent scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors."

Drama Therapy: excitement without drugs, enhancing self-esteem for people with addictions

What if one key could...turn a young woman away from substance abuse...There is perhaps not one key, but there may be one set of keys: drama therapy. Drama can provide excitement without drugs and offer a new interest and skills...Ultimately, drama therapy can enhance positive self-image, self-esteem and self-discipline among people struggling with addictions.

Performance is beneficial to both participants and audiences

Performance is very captivating and beneficial to both participants and audiences...The development and practice of these characteristics along with others make for resilient youth, better able to withstand problems that can lead to substance abuse. But audiences can benefit as well, by being exposed to the accomplishments of young people, by learning more about substance abuse, and perhaps by participating in some solution building. The organization benefits through using performance to accomplish its goals and ultimately, the whole community can become a safer, more supportive environment.

Drama is effective for prevention education and motivation

Drama incorporates a component of emotional response to the informational content, and the combination of emotion and information works together to promote individual intentions to become more involved in family and community prevention activities. This study demonstrates the efficacy of drama as a mechanism to educate and motivate.