Pubdate: Sat, 10 May 2008
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Author: James Hohmann, Los Angeles Times
Referenced: The 'report'
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


WASHINGTON -- The White House drug czar warned parents Friday that 
depressed teens are medicating themselves with marijuana, running 
risks of deeper depression.

A report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy said that 
frequent marijuana use doubles a teen's risk of depression and 
anxiety, based on data compiled from published studies.

The report cited a study saying that marijuana use increases the risk 
of developing mental disorders later in life by 40 percent. "In 
short, marijuana makes a bad situation worse," said John Walters, 
director of the drug-control policy office.

Some addiction experts said the report stretches evidence by implying 
a causal link between smoking pot and developing mental illness that 
did not previously exist.

A British government advisory group said in an April report that 
there is not evidence to show "a causal relationship between the use 
of cannabis and the development of any affective disorder."

Pressed at a news conference about the report's claim that, "Using 
marijuana can cause depression and other mental illnesses," Walters 
acknowledged there is no proof that one leads to another.

Among experts, opinions are mixed on the relationship among teens, 
depression and marijuana.

"Both conditions could be related to something else," said Dr. Victor 
Reus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco. 
"Depressed teens are more likely to exercise less, stay indoors and 
watch TV. Take your pick as to which one is causal."

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at 
the National Institutes of Health, said many young people smoke pot 
and never become depressed.

She said evidence indicates genetic factors make some teens more 
vulnerable to mental disorders so marijuana can trigger their onset. 
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