Is the link between Marijuana and Psychosis Overblown?

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Paul Armentano of NORML took to Marijuana Moment to discuss the alarm over the link in studies between marijuana and onset of psychotic disorders in heavy smokers.

In his view, the issue has been captured by the media and blown out of the realm of science and into sensationalism.

“In reality, acute cannabis-induced psychosis is rare, and those who experience it are typically either predisposed to psychosis or have a pre-existing psychiatric disorder. For example, Canadian researchers recently assessed mental or behavioral-related hospitalizations among a cohort of more than 23,000 medical cannabis patients. During the course of the study, only 26 subjects were hospitalized for exhibiting ‘disorders due to the use of cannabis.'”

He cites multiple studies that show how rare psychosis is for smokers, and more importantly, that there are signs that these cases were already predisposed to psychotic breaks.

“In some instances, there are higher risk populations that may possess a greater likelihood of experiencing adverse events following its use. Those who suffer from certain psychiatric disorders, or who are predisposed to such events, likely fall into this category. But sensationalizing the potential risks of cannabis will do little to protect them. Calling for the re-criminalization of cannabis in state-legal markets won’t either.”

While convincing, there is a bald spot in Armentano’s report, which is that most of the discussion has been around high potency THC and its link to psychosis. All of the studies referred in the article discuss marijuana in general, and don’t differentiate between THC levels. There is a big difference between a smoker who consumes products with 30% verses 90% a day.

Armentano’s point is correct. These studies should not be diluted down and used as propaganda. However, there is a discussion to be had about high potency THC and its potentially dire side effects. It’s a more nuanced conversation, and one that may need to be considered from both sides.

Read the original editorial from Paul Armentano at Marijuana Moment.

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