As many states in the country move toward the complete or partial legalization of Marijuana, one of the consistent objections is that children will have increased access to the drug. Proponents counter by saying marijuana isn’t any more dangerous than alcohol, and there is little to show for a connection between marijuana and health problems.

However, Science Daily reports new Research from the University of Warwick in the UK that shows there is a connection between adolescent marijuana use and future bipolar disorder. The study, led by Dr. Steven Marwaha, established a direct relationship between teenage marijuana use and the manic symptoms of bipolar disorders when users are in their 20s.

Teenage marijuana use does matter

What the research found was hypomania, the state of being giddy and over-active to the point of disrupting people’s lives, is more prevalent in people who smoked marijuana two or more times a week as teenagers than those who did not smoke. Researchers said it was a direct connection.

Marijuana is the direct cause of hypomania for some

Additionally, researchers found a link between the amount of marijuana consumed and the chances of developing hypomania. The less marijuana consumed, the fewer chances that the smoker would develop hypomania.

The study did control for other influences, and marijuana stood out as a direct and primary cause of hypomania. The researchers feel the connection is so strong that intervention in the teenage years could prevent smokers from developing hypomania later in life.

Dr. Marwaha said, “Adolescent cannabis use may be an independent risk factor for future hypomania, and the nature of the association suggests a potential causal link. As such it might be a useful target for indicated prevention of hypomania.” He added there is already an association between marijuana use and psychiatric issues, but the connection to bipolar disorder is largely unstudied.

In the United States, there are now seven states and the District of Columbia with legal recreational marijuana sales. In total there are 29 states that have legalized marijuana for either medical use, recreational use, or both. While states are looking forward to the taxes being generated by sales, there has been little discussion of the impact long-term marijuana use could have on states’ medical systems.

The study is titled “Cannabis Use and Hypomania in Young People: A Prospective Analysis” and published in the "Schizophrenia Bulletin."