Many researchers have studied the relationship between marijuana and mental illness. Early twentieth century proponents of marijuana prohibition in the United States often cited studies showing a link between marijuana and insanity and referred to reports of large numbers of institutionalized mental patients in India and Egypt who had used marijuana. However, since the 1970s, researchers have effectively refuted the claims of a direct link between marijuana use and mental illness.
Although marijuana may not be linked to severe mental illness, research begun in the 1960s has suggested that marijuana can cause subtle psychological damage, particularly to adolescents. Studies have consistently shown that adolescents with psychological and behavioral problems are more likely than other adolescents to use marijuana heavily. Experts and others such as parents, school administrators, and drug abuse counselors often point to marijuana as the primary cause of these problems. They theorize that once marijuana is removed from a troubled adolescent's life, the troubles will soon depart as well. However, recent research discounts this theory. Most teens who use marijuana heavily are likely to have underlying psychological and behavioral problems. Therefore, heavy marijuana use may add to a teen's problems, but it is more a symptom than a cause of these problems.
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