Marijuana Facts with Psychiatrist, Andy Farah M.D.

Welcome to the next installment of, the pediatric blog for parents that brings you portable, practical, pediatric information and insights. I am the Doc and the Smo in, Dr. Paul Smolen, a genuine, board certified pediatrician with now 32 years of practice.  I am very excited to have a new guest today, Dr. Andy Farah, Chief of Psychiatry at the High Point, NC division of UNC Healthcare, a practicing psychiatrist and expert in psychopharmacology to educate my listeners and me on an important subject for parents of teens… marijuana and its multitude of effects on the human brain. Dr. Farah is in the trenches everyday when he practices psychiatry in High Point, NC and sees, almost everyday, the real life effects of marijuana use on his patients.


Greetings to Dr. Farah:


Question 1: Dr. Farah, we are being told by the media that marijuana is medicinal and harmless, do you see it that way?  It’s just marijuana, what’s the big deal?


Answer to include- gateway drug, long-term effects on motivation, personality, depression, and psychological dependence. (other?)



Question 2: I’ve heard that MJ today is not your grandfather’s variety?  Is this true?  Has MJ changed in potency and effects?


Answer to include- increased potency, change in THC concentration and other ingredients of marijuana.


Question 3:  In layman’s terms, do you believe smoking MJ can cause major mental illness in people?


Answer to include- recent observations and studies, concept of latent and overt mental illness, marijuana as a trigger.


Question 4:  Assuming that one does not develop psychosis from it’s use, are there other long-term problems with using marijuana over an extended period of time?


Answer to include- loss of IQ, social impairment, and employment difficulties.



Question 5: What information should parents give their children about marijuana.  What would you suggest their “talking points” be in these conversations?


Answer to include-reiterate the important points of podcast.


Dr. Farah, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wisdom and experiences with my audience.  It’s not everyday we get to have a conversation with a bona fide psychiatrist with your level of expertise. For my listeners, your comments and questions are welcome at my blog,  We read them and respond.  We also love comments on iTunes.  This is Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping after listening today, that you are a little more keen, on having a conversation about MJ with your teen.  Until next time.