Experts worried about the increasing potency of recreational pot

- Marijuana advocates have been pushing for years to legalize pot in Texas. State lawmakers are currently looking at several proposals including a constitutional amendment that would legalize pot and a separate bill that would decriminalize possession.

A lot of people are making big bucks off marijuana now that recreational use is legal in eight states. Even the states themselves are raking in hundreds of millions of tax dollars off sales.

But as more states do legalize marijuana, growers are also increasing its potency. One of the nation’s leading experts on addiction told FOX 4 the health effects of super concentrated pot are dangerous. He’s hoping science can speak louder than all the cash.

FOX 4 also talked to a former drug addict who agrees.

“The disease slowly and gradually infects over a long period of time,” said Michael Hood, a 19-year-old who first tried pot when he was 16. “Once you try it and it’s okay, it slowly attacks your mind.”

FOX 4 was there when he talked to his mother about how he was able to hide it from her.

“Why did I never smell it,” Melissa Hood asked.

“You stuff dryer sheets in a toilet paper roll, exhale through the toilet paper roll. You have no idea,” he said.

Michael said getting arrested for marijuana possession finally gave him a wakeup call and he checked into rehab.

Dr. Harold Urschel, the chief medical strategist for Enterhealth, said pot today has double the potency it had just 10 years ago.

“Today’s pot is not your mother’s pot,” he said. “I’ve seen the destructive nature of marijuana. It’s shattered careers. It’s shattered families.”

That’s why he’s taking his message to young people at places like UT Dallas.

“Just because something’s legal doesn’t make it safe,” he said.

Urschel showed images of what marijuana use does to the brain over time.

“One of the concerning things about marijuana is if you start using it before 15 you have a much higher chance of developing psychosis, or another name for it is schizophrenia to the tune of 40 percent,” he said.

Unlike alcohol, Urschel said one joint will stay in your system for seven days, continuing to affect your mental sharpness.

“There is a myth you can smoke marijuana after a football game on Friday, but it's not going to bother your test on Wednesday. That's not true,” he said.

It’s something Michel said he knows all too well.

“Removes you from your senses, removes you from reality,” he said.

He’s thankful he’s back now and hopes he can keep others from making the same mistakes he made.

Twenty-one states have enacted laws to stop putting people in jail for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Advocates of decriminalizing marijuana argue giving someone a criminal record for possessing small amounts of the drug can have life-altering consequences.

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