Mental Health

A Hempfest® Gut Check​

Researchers have found that marijuana is used safely, responsibly, and healthfully by many.

So, what’s the big deal about mental health? There’s a lot that scientists can’t tell us yet.

Question. Can some people become seriously depressed if they get high, maybe even to the point of committing suicide? 

Answer. Yeah, but scientists aren’t sure that pot causes depression or suicide. Maybe it’s something else going on in the person’s life that causes these things to happen.

Question. What about serious anxiety? Is that a risk for people who get high? 

Answer. Same answer.

Question. Can some people become psychotic from pot?

Answer. Yeah, but, once again, it’s uncertain whether the cause is getting high.

There’s an exception. People with a history of schizophrenia risk having a relapse if they get high.

Here’s the deal. Some studies say that some pot users are at risk of serious mental health problems, but other studies say they’re not.

It’s a dilemma. If the studies don’t give us solid answers, what should the public think?

Some people might conclude there’s nothing to worry about.

A smarter conclusion is to recognize there’s a possibility of risk to mental health.

So how do you take care of yourself if you get high?

Tune in to what your body is telling you.

If you seem to be frequently depressed or anxious after getting high, consider the possibility that pot isn’t working for you.

If you’re having suicidal feelings and thoughts when you get high, maybe pot is contributing to this.

If you’re a teen, scientists believe the risks of mental health problems, now and later in life, are greater for you if you get high.


Here’s the bottom line:

  • Clearly, pot does not cause mental health problems in all users. It might be only a small percentage of users who experience them.
  • Tune in to your body. If you’re often depressed, anxious, or suicidal when high, it’s a red flag.
  • Be careful with marijuana that has high THC and low CBD content. It may lead to anxiety or panic.
  • If you have a history of schizophrenia, that’s a red flag.
  • If you’re a teen, hold off on the decision to get high until you’re an adult.


Written by Dr. Roger Roffman, professor emeritus, UW School of Social Work.

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