(by Michael Mui, 24 Hours)
A study into marijuana’s long-term psychological effects announced Wednesday aims to raise awareness among those who think the drug is “harmless.”
The study by Dr. Jonathan Stea is looking to identify and catalog “clusters of problems” in users. The University of Calgary psychologist said up to half of daily users become hooked and develop psychological problems. He added the majority of Canadian pot smokers are in Alberta and B.C., where up to 14 per cent of residents have tried the drug at least once.
Stea plans to measure the weed’s effect on people’s ability to work, how it affects their interpersonal relationships, if they experience “loss of control” over usage, and if they lose interest in “important activities” from partaking.
“The statistics speak for itself,” he said. “Risk increases substantially with frequency of use.”
The study will interview 120 former marijuana addicts to find out the most effective way of kicking the drug – a $20 honourarium will be offered for each successful applicant.
SFU clinical psychologist Dr. Joti Samra praised the study for its focus on psychological research, instead of bodily effects such as respiratory problems. She added data on dope usage is harder to come by because most users won’t approach medical practitioners for help.
“There’s a general belief that (marijuana) is acceptable and less harmful,” Samra said, adding that unlike cocaine and heroin, marijuana can be used safely on a recreational basis.
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