In a newly released study of over 280,000 young adults ages 18-35, use of marijuana was strongly associated with suicidal ideation, suicide plan, and suicide attempt. Compared to non-users, researchers found that those reporting marijuana use were 1.4 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, 1.6 times more likely to formulate a suicide plan, and 1.4 times more likely to attempt suicide. These findings persisted even after researchers controlled for confounding factors including major depressive episode, frequency of marijuana use, and presence of cannabis use disorder. In other words, any use of marijuana was independently associated with suicidality. The relationship between marijuana use and suicidal ideation was slightly stronger in females as they were 20% more likely to experience suicidal ideation compared to male users.
Drug Free America Foundation Epidemiologist Dr. Sharif Mohr commented, “These results mirror those of the previous work done by Gobbi and colleagues. In Gobbi’s study, youth who used marijuana were 1.4 times more likely to develop depression, 1.5 times more likely to experience suicidal ideation, and 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-users.”
Dr. Mohr further remarked, “Depression and suicide are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the US, leaving tremendous suffering in their wake, so these types of studies really put into context the large increases in marijuana use among youth and adults since the systematic liberalization of marijuana laws began more than a decade ago. More and more we are beginning to see the alarming results of the largescale, natural experiment being conducted on the American public known as marijuana legalization. However, if this were an experiment conducted according to the standards of biomedical ethics rather than corporate greed, it would have been halted when the first reports emerged of the adverse public health consequences of high-potency marijuana use.”
B Han, WM Compton, EB Einstein, ND Volkow. Associations of Suicidality Trends With Cannabis Use as a Function of Sex and Depression Status. JAMA Network Open. DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.13025 (2021).
Gobbi G, et al. Association of Cannabis Use in Adolescence and Risk of Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidality in Young Adulthood: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 1;76(4):426-434.