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Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor

“Cannabis Use, Psychosis Risk and Basic Science” Comments, Page 1

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10 Responses (One Discussion Thread) to “Cannabis Use, Psychosis Risk and Basic Science”

  1. avatar image
    Chuck Sher
    1

    There are dozens of studies, mostly done in the last ten years, that show that regular marijuana use by adolescents does indeed cause anywhere from 2-10 times the rate of later, adult-onset schizophrenia, even after factoring in other variables. A good sampling of these studies can be found at http://www.schizophrenia.com, the British Journal Of Psychiatry (http://bjp.repsych.org/cgi/content/full/184/2/110) or just ask Google for cannabis+adolescent+schizophrenia.

  2. avatar image
    Jon Bolton
    2

    Editor’s Note: The comment originally left here was a full text cut-and-paste of an article called ‘Will One Joint Really Make You Schizoid?’, written by Maia Szalavitz at George Mason University. The article, published several days after our own post, makes much the same point as our post:

    http://www.stats.org/stories/2007/will_one_joint_schizoid_july30_07.htm

    I have replaced the full text cut-and-paste with a link to the article.

  3. avatar image
    ganbabu
    3

    cannabis in india is common eventhough it is illegal. the psychosis associated with cannabis cannot be categorically classified as schizophrenia. most of them belong to the undifferentiated category. some have florid mood symptoms too

  4. avatar image
    JQuestio
    4

    I suspect at least part of the reason cannabis users tend to get schizophrenia is because people with a predisposition to schizophrenia are often a bit odd long before they actually develop full on psychosis and often these people feel socially isolated because of this. Cannabis users tend to be more tolerant of deviance. So people predisposed to schizophrenia tend to be more comfortable choosing friends who are cannabis users and become users themselves. Anyone who has spent time in a community with a lot of cannabis users will tell you there are quite a few mentally ill and borderline people who are included and supported by this community who would otherwise be social rejects.

    I’ve never seen a study which takes that factor into account.

    There is also studies showing pregnant women who take certain commonly used pain killers face a 4 times greater chance their babies will develop schizophrenia, but no one is talking about criminalizing aspirin.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/10/31/npain31.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/10/31/ixhome.html

    This is a ten times greater suspected risk than the suspected link between cannabis and psychosis

    So it seems the interest in this is not driven by just a concern for public health.

    Some sane political leadership in this would be nice for a change. But this doesn’t seem likely as apparently cannabis really does make people crazy.

    It’s especially dangerous to politicians and people with deeply held personal beliefs.

  5. avatar image
    AL
    5

    Yes, cannabis can trigger an schizophrenic episode in persons who were already either paranoic or anxious, or depressive, or who were vulnerable to the substance. The problem is that nobody know that he or she could be vulnerable to cannabis. Cannabis is the most common used ilegal drug world-wide. The best thing to do is to stay away from ilegal drugs.

  6. avatar image
    Ty Kays
    6

    I love to hear and read marijuana proponents. They act as if marijuana is a gift from the gods. Even making a modest attempt at neutrality leaves them looking ridiculous as they simply cannot hide their agenda. Marijuana is simply unhealthy in a wide spectrum of ways, including inducing psychosis. We all need to accept that and move on.

  7. avatar image
    JMorian
    7

    In college I did a report on why cannabis is illegal, and I also did a report on how cannabis affects its users (interviewing more than 30 regular users.) The propaganda that was created to ensure public support of the banning of cannabis (which at first just started out as a tax in the 1930’s) was based in racism, bigotry and hysteria. After Prohibition was remanded, the alcohol units that were set to enforce the prohibition had no jobs. Thus set into motion the pursuit of psychoactive drugs in America. Cannabis was targeted because it was believed that only Mexicans used cannabis and that by eliminating the use of cannabis it would eliminate much of our Mexican population, as well as African American’s who used cannabis in addition to Cocaine. Cocaine and Heroine were also targets due to the population of Chinese Americans who supposedly used it. Before the 1930’s these drugs were legal, but since the failure of eliminating alcohol happened, they had to target something new to employ all those government officials who were now without a job.

    Journalism continued on the path of sensationalism with the introduction of the cannabis scares. Before cannabis the propaganda was targeting alcohol and how it made for bad husbands and bad people in general. Then it changed over to Marijuana makes you crazy and depraved. The truth however is that cannabis is less likely to cause issues like alcohol does.

    Obviously smoking cannabis is not the best thing for anyone’s health, as smoking anything introduces carcinogenic properties into the lungs and the body. But ingesting cannabis either in the form of food or as a tincture has no lasting health effects for the negative.

    What I found with people who smoke or ingest cannabis is this: Most were everyday normal people, the mailman who comes to your door, the pizza guy who brings you food, and the mother down the street who sneaks a joint at the end of the day before bed. It can be anyone, anywhere, at any time.

    For people who are not already predisposed to mental disorders (by this I mean people who do not act crazy when sober) the worst thing cannabis does is cause paranoia. This does not happen that often, and is usually caused by the mental state of the user before use, though can be caused by certain strains of cannabis as well (usually stronger more potent ones.) But, for most users the effect is a calming of their mind, increased giggling, and happy loving thoughts. TO me that doesn’t sound like a dangerous drug, in fact it sounds like what most MAOI’s or other feel good psychology drugs do…only it is natural, safe, and non-habit forming.

    I say cannabis is non-habit forming, because most users can quite cold turkey and have no withdrawal symptoms other than the mental desire to get high (this is not a physical withdrawal symptom, it is no different that someone who uses shopping to cope with mental issues.) Most users who do not have mental problems that they are trying to escape from by using cannabis have no withdrawal symptoms when they don’t use cannabis. Like one user I spoke to, who smoked everyday simply for pleasure of it said,when he could not find any for sale and had to go two weeks to two months without it, he felt nothing out of the ordinary, other than the irritation that it can be so hard to find sometimes and that he can’t grow it himself. I spoke with a former ski instructor who smoked up to 3 joints a day, one on the lifts in the morning, one after lunch, and one when he got home. She had been smoking for the past two years like this and was perfectly normal (as normal as most people can be.) We discussed promiscuity related to smoking, and her reactions was that the idea was absurd. When high the sexual desire is actually reduced, most times to the point that it is impossible to even orgasm, and for men to acquire an erection (if using heavily.)

    This user said she did used because it made her job enjoyable, made music listening pleasant, and conversations with friends exciting. Her friends also used, though not as regularly as she did, and non of them showed any mental illness signs. OF the 30 people I talked to, only three had been diagnosed with a mental problems before they started smoking, which was depression and anxiety disorders. By using cannabis they no longer showed symptoms of these disorders. The anxiety was reduced to nothing, and the depression stopped when they found comfort in the social group of other users. Two of the regular users had bipolar and schizophrenia in their close families. Neither one of these users had been diagnosed, but they were not worried about developing these disorders due to smoking and ingesting cannabis, and at that time both had been using for more than five years without any development of these disorders.

    A person who drinks alcohol is more likely to get into a car and cause an accident due to reckless behavior and the insistence that they are not as drunk as they actually are. A cannabis users is less likely to leave the house, and a regular user may not even appear impaired when using (though their motor skill response time does tend to be slowed, thus still causing concern for car accidents.) Of the 30 I interviewed, most said they do not drive for at least 4 hours after they have smoked, because they do not want to get into an accident. For most regular cannabis users, 4 hours is about the time it takes to come down from a high. Unlike alcohol which takes almost 12 hours to cycle through the human system, cannabis effects lessen within the first 2 hours of using gradually decreasing until totally sober 4-8 hours after initial use (time depends on how much was used and the absences of any other substance being used.)

    As for cannabis being a gateway drug, of the 30 I talked to, only 3 had used any harder substances. Cocaine and X. The 3 people were not regular users of harder substances, but had tried them through friends, usually at parties. This gateway theory is yet another scare tactic that is unfounded. Most hard drug users have used cannabis at some point (usually in their early teens) but were inclined to move on to harder drugs due to mental issues. However, that does not mean all cannabis users will use hard drugs, as I found 27 out of 30 had not used anything other than alcohol in social settings. Just because hard drug users use cannabis does not make cannabis the gateway drug, as they have the tendency to use drugs as an escape from their problems in their life. People willing to do hard drugs would eventually make their way to using them with or without using cannabis.

    Many cannabis users are also health nuts. They tend more towards vegan diets, animal rights, and environmental issues, and human rights issues, though not all are this way. Half of the people I spoke to were vegetarians, 3 were total vegans, and 28 of them classified themselves as liberals, where only 2 classified themselves as middle of the road conservatives.

    There is an entire subculture of cannabis users that the nations never hear about, because these people use cannabis in the privacy of their own homes and are law abiding citizens in every other aspect of their lives. (Except the use of cannabis that is.)

    Cannabis actually reduces violence, where as alcohol tends to increase violence. If you take a group of people, mixed males and females, and watch them drink alcohol at a party (only alcohol) there is more likely to be an outburst of violence between two or more people during this party, there is also more likely to be several sexual encounters as a result of drunkenness. Now take that same group of people, give them nothing but cannabis to use and soda to drink (or water, coffee or tea) and you will see a mellow group of people, laughing, listening to music, watching TV while eating snacks, and there will not be one outbreak of violence. I witnessed this first hand with 15 of the cannabis users on two separate occasions. (I was present in a professional manner just observing the parties with their permission.)

    Males tend to be the most affected by alcohol when it comes to violence, and they are also the most effected when it comes to loving brotherly acts when high. Women tended to giggle uncontrollably when high, but were sexually overt when drunk. I witnessed one event during the party where four males were sitting together having a heated political debate while passing a bong around. After about four inhales the heated debate relaxed and all the guys were laughing about what was on the TV leaving their debate altogether! I saw the same four males with alcohol only discussing something heated, and as the alcohol flowed, the debate turned hostile and into a screaming match with two of the guys leaving the room fuming.

    This same group when high, were to lazy to pursue any type of sexual encounters between the mixed group of males and females. However the same group when on alcohol ended up in three hookups at the party due to drunken flirtations.

    None of these people would have been classified as deviants, maladaptives, or psychos. Most are just living life normally as everyone else, with the exception that they use cannabis.

    I have witnessed two people, outside of the psychology study I was conducting, who had mental disorders in their normal every day life, that were exacerbated by the use of cannabis. One was a bi-polar classified girl who became paranoid when smoking and even more emotionally unstable. And another was a borderline personality disorder (diagnosed and in therapy)male who became explosive when using any substance (cannabis or alcohol.) Both of these people were social outcasts and maladaptive in their normal every day life.

    I do not believe cannabis use causing anything, except weight gain through excessive high calorie snacking and laziness in people predisposed to be lazy. Aside from the obvious hazard of smoking it, the ingesting of cannabis in normal people or even people with depression, anxiety disorders,and ADHD/ADD does not cause any lasting, permanent, or detrimental issues.

    For people who already have a mental issue, any substance can cause a problem. It doesn’t even have to be cannabis, it could be any array of drugs psychologists or psychiatrists proscribe that can exacerbate their mental issues. People who already have mental issues, are socially maladaptive anyway. The use of any substances could cause farther problems with their mental issues. Most of these mentally unstable people are already extremely unhappy with their lives and anything to cause them to forget their problems even for a few hours is probably something they would be willing to try, be that cannabis or heroine!

    Cannabis doesn’t cause any mental problems in normal people. Even the so called memory loss, it is attributed to the times when high. Cannabis can inhibit the forming of memories, much like alcohol does when one is drunk. Most people will not remember exactly what happened when they were high, nor with people remember what happened when they are drunk. Long term memory loss can not be proven in any scientific study. We all lose memories, frankly I don’t remember much of my childhood, but that has nothing to do with any substances taken, but for the fact that memories that are not major events tend to fade into just pictures and distant thoughts. I find it amusing to ask people who are over 30 if they remember how to do long division without using a calculator. To many it is a surprise that if they haven’t used it in years, they can’t remember how to do it! These are not cannabis using people, they are just normal every day people who have forgotten how to do long division.

    Alcohol is much more unhealthy for our bodies when ingested than ingested cannabis. There have been studies done that show no lasting medical side effects from ingesting cannabis, where as alcohol ingestion can cause a plethora of medical issues resulting in death from frequently use.

    There is no Lethal dosage for cannabis. You cannot OD on weed. You could smoke yourself drooling and still live(even wake up feeling refreshed), where as if you drank yourself into a stupor you could end up dying from alcohol poisoning (or at least wake up with the worst hangover ever.)I read before that for a human to overdose on cannabis a man of 200 lbs would have to ingest over 15 pounds of cannabis. Anyone who has ever used cannabis knows this is impossible to do because unconsciousness would come long before a pound was ingested. A pan of cannabis brownies will contain just 1/4 cup of cannabis, and those who eat them will be high before they finish off the pan. Users only get about a tablespoon of cannabis per serving and will be high enough to want to just sleep.

    The media has done a great job of continuing to spread the lies and propaganda associated with cannabis use. Most people believe the lies. Where in fact there is no truth in any reports done in the media about cannabis. It is scare propaganda fueled by an old tale of hate and bigotry. There re political reasons why cannabis is still illegal, the same reasons the substance Stevia (a sugar substitute) is only allowed to be sold in America as a dietary substance, money.

    Legalizing cannabis would eliminate half the supposed drug war money that the government spends each year. The fines that the police collect from those caught with cannabis paraphernalia would cease, the lack of officers needed to handle all the cannabis drug dealers would cut the funds to the police force, and the American governments own hand in the cookie jar of cannabis sales (tell me where the government enhanced cannabis comes from?) would cease. But there is also a money gain that would come from legalizing it, but the taxes alone would not be as high as something like cigarettes or alcohol, because most cannabis users would grow their own if it were legal and would not purchase highly taxed weed from companies like Marlboro (who already holds the patent on the cannabis cigarette.) The Soy industry would be reduced because cannabis seeds are a better and healthier source of protein and are easily used in cooking and baking. In fact there are actually health issues with using soy products that most consumers are not aware of, but cannabis seeds do not have those same issues. Soy is actually not good for human consumption when taken in the form of tofu. Cannabis produced tofu would be much healthier, and since there is no psychoactive chemicals in the seeds, there is no risk of getting high.

    I don’t believe in conspiracies, but there are deeper reasons why cannabis is illegal, aside from the normal mantra of the media. In fact the normal mantra is so absurd that people readily believe it because it scares them, just like it is intended to do. I applaud this article above for its honesty of the lack of correlation between cannabis and the cause of schizophrenia, because cannabis does not cause schizophrenia, though it may exacerbate the symptoms in a person who already has it.

  8. avatar image
    EVA MARIKAKIS
    8

    My son was a very healthy young teenage. Excellent school grades. Involved with sports(hockey,baseball,soccer etc). Very friendly, kind, and had alot of good friends.
    He started smoking marijuana, 15-16 years old (with his friends)socially. At 18 he probably was smoking a joint daily. Looking back he started changing slowly. School marks from 80s/90s, dropped. He was somewhat quieter. Started not caring about his appearance (changing his clothes,showering), not motivated.
    At 20 years old diagnosed with Schizophrenia. We are a large family from both sides of the family. He has over 14 first cousins.Luckily none of them smoked marijuana. No one (from both families)has the desease. In your report you only interviewed 30 healthy users. You thing this makes you a expert? Why dont’t you go interview all these teenage boys/girls at the hospitals when they are admitted for schizophrenia from smoking, get their full story ,and then rewrite your report.

    • avatar image
      Kingstree
      8.1

      I agree with this writer. Over 30 years ago a friend of mine was
      diagnosed with Schizophrenia. She smoked pot daily. However, her family got her help and she lives a normal life. I told my kids about this but I have a son who was a rebel. He was normal, high IQ but he insisted on smoking pot despite what we tried to tell him. Today he is in a state mental hospital. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He has been in the hospital at least 3 times because of his condition.

  9. avatar image
    Chris
    9

    Your son was responsible for himself and there is no one else to blame.

    If you choose to smoke pot nowadays it has been made sure that the warnings are in your face enough to make a decision for youself.

    Atleast the person that published the repot took information from 29 more people than your greatly detailed and indepth research.

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