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Widely Available THC Products Like Delta-8 Can Cause Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Problems

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Virginia and South Carolina are two of the latest states to consider legalizing easier access to marijuana.  While these moves tend to be seen as financial windfalls, there is growing pushback from many doctors, parents, and former addicts.  

Laura Stack told CBN News marijuana stole the life of her son Johnny.  She recalled he was a happy, intelligent child who grew up in a Christian home.  However, he began using marijuana at age 14 when his home state of Colorado legalized its recreational use.   It was a move that changed his life forever, leading to ultimate tragedy. 

"He took his own life when he was 19 years old five years later, after he became psychotic, very delusional, and paranoid, and suspicious, from using the marijuana," she said. 

Laura didn't realize that most of today's marijuana contains at least 10 times the psychoactive compound THC than it did 20 years ago. 

"In my head, I said, 'It's just weed. I used it when I was a girl. I'm fine. It's no big deal,' and I was so wrong," she said. 

Laura and her husband John founded Johnny's Ambassadors as a way to honor their son and help prevent other people from suffering the same fate.

Cannabis-Induced Psychosis

Former marijuana addict Zach Plant told CBN News the drug almost took his life.

"I had thoughts of other people wanting to hurt me, thoughts of the only way of being safe was to end my own life," he said.

Zach was admitted to the hospital and was diagnosed with Cannabis-Induced Psychosis.  Symptoms include losing touch with reality, hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.  Zach recalled the stark warning doctors gave him.

"'If you smoke marijuana again, there's a chance you don't come out of psychosis. You go back into it and your brain may never recover,'" Zach said.

Nora Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told CBN News these types of episodes are becoming more common as the drugs get stronger.

"The higher the dose of THC for example, the higher the likelihood that you will end up with a psychotic episode," she said. "And that will lead you to the emergency room department."

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Indeed, THC-related emergency room visits are on the rise, especially where the products are more widely available.  Internal Medicine physician John-Paul Jansen, M.D., told CBN News he witnessed that first-hand as a doctor in Colorado, the first state in the U.S. to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.

"As it became legal, definitely saw more delirium, hallucinations, paranoia, as being side effects of this, and then even just normal depression and anxiety," he said. 

Patients who ingest high levels of THC can also experience severe vomiting, heart and lung complications, sexual dysfunction, and stomach paralysis. 

"They would come in and have long bouts of being unable to eat. This would last for three or four days, and it was well known it was due to marijuana," Dr. Jansen said. 

Pushing to Legalize

Despite the risks, more states continue to legalize marijuana in some form.  Currently, only four states still fully ban it.  They are Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming.  However, South Carolina is now considering legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told CBN News he opposes that legislation.

"I really don't like it," he said. "It's a way to simply legalize marijuana outright. It's been a camel's nose under the tent and for years. We've seen this in multiple states."

In Virginia, lawmakers voted to make it the first southern state to legalize recreational sales of marijuana.  The bill's sponsor, Virginia Senator Aaron Rouse (D) of Virginia Beach, told CBN News legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana can give "opportunities for Virginians to earn a living, start a business, and create true generational wealth."

The measure is now in the hands of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) who signaled he might veto the measure.  Virginia Mercury reports Governor Youngkin said at a news conference, "You want to talk about putting a cannabis shop on every corner?" adding, "I don't quite get it." 

Dr. Sabet predicts Youngkin will not allow Virginia businesses to sell recreational marijuana.

"It's causing psychosis, schizophrenia, mental health problems. I can't imagine he's not going to veto it," Sabet said.


Aside from marijuana, there's growing concern about another substance containing THC called Delta-8.  It doesn't come from the cannabis plant.  Instead, it's synthesized from a similar plant called hemp.  It can contain as much THC or more than marijuana.  

Delta-8 products like vape pens can be purchased at gas stations, convenience stores, and online even in states where the commercial sale of marijuana is illegal.  That's because of a legal loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp nationwide. 

Julie Killian, co-founder of RyeACT, Rye Action for Children and Teens, to educate families on youth substance abuse, told CBN News she was surprised to encounter the widespread sale of Delta-8 while she was visiting a state where commercial, recreational marijuana sales were outlawed. 

"I was at a truck, one of those food trucks, and they were selling coffee in the morning, and you could get a shot of Delta-8 THC in your coffee," she said. 

Now she's part of a major push to get rid of it.

"We're trying to work on the Hill with federal legislators about changing the definition of hemp in the Farm Bill so that that will then be illegal," Killian said. 

Some lawmakers on the state level consider Delta-8 such an emergency that they're calling for it to be immediately outlawed.

"Essentially you do have states like Wyoming, Florida, and some others, that are trying to ban that on the statewide level," said Dr. Sabet. "They're not waiting for Congress to intervene."

Meanwhile, parents struggle to protect their children from these dangerous and readily available substances.  Christian parenting expert Kelly Newcom, founder of Brave Parenting told CBN News the stakes couldn't be higher.

"Ultimately God's Word says that we are to be sober-minded. We are to be on the lookout for the devil who prowls like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour. And marijuana is one way to sort of numb our children's brains, one other way Satan is using to get kids to walk away from the faith," she said.

As a mother of five, Julie Killian says there's no substitute for parental involvement.

"Talk to your kids," she said. "It may not seem like they're not listening but I always feel like you're going to be in the back of their head and they're going to hear you. So don't ever give up on talking to your kids."


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