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Ghalib, K. (2018). Marijuana and Mental Health, Edited by Michael T. Compton, M.D., M.P.H., American Psychiatric Association Publishing, Arlington, VA, 2016, 272 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 46(1):165-168.

(2018). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 46(1):165-168

Marijuana and Mental Health, Edited by Michael T. Compton, M.D., M.P.H., American Psychiatric Association Publishing, Arlington, VA, 2016, 272 pp.

Review by:
Kareem Ghalib, M.D.

These days, it seems like weed is everywhere. As a New York-area psychiatrist who treats a lot of adolescents and young adults, I've actually stopped asking new patients whether or not they are using marijuana; instead I just ask how much. My patients are rarely offended. For every sheepish admission, there are multiple matter-of-fact replies. Many claim that not only are there no adverse effects of marijuana, but that their frequent use is in fact helpful for their anxiety, or mood, or irritability or sleep. Their extensive-seeming knowledge gleaned from reading on Reddit message boards can make me quite insecure about the dated medical knowledge I've already half-forgotten. And I don't think I'm alone. All of these are reasons why Marijuana and Mental Health is a timely text.

True to the title, the goal of this book is “to convey what is known—and specifically what psychiatrists, other mental health professionals, and public health and medical professionals in general need to know—about marijuana and mental health” (p. ix). Compton is up front about one significant limitation: The book focuses on what is known about the detrimental effects of marijuana. Those of us hoping for a scientific reference to vet some of our patients' more therapeutically oriented claims about the drug will be disappointed. This is not a result of author biases, however; as the book explains, because marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency, conducting research is challenging, and the scientific evidence base for therapeutic claims does not exist. There is a lot of scientific evidence for marijuana's risks, however, and the book provides vital information to counter claims that only good is coming from its use.

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