Paranoia About Pot Is Rational

PsychOdyssey op-ed, December 6, 2015


Marijuana smokerAmericans today see a vast public movement favoring decriminalization of marijuana, whether for medicinal purposes (as in many states, including PsychOdyssey’s home state of New Jersey) or even for recreational purposes (as in Colorado). Many Americans seem to favor such action. But for most families navigating schizophrenia, such action is antithetical to good mental health. Indeed, such action hinders family efforts to restrain their loved ones from its deleterious use.

Marijuana seems to induce psychosis in some. While marijuana is not believe to cause schizophrenia, many believe marijuana can trigger schizophrenia if latent and certainly exacerbates the illness when manifest. For many families, to facilitate greater public access and use of today’s highly potent marijuana is  foolish, misguided, dangerous to public health, and even an irresponsible and harmful act against those with schizophrenia.

PsychOdyssey opposes policies that would loosen strictures on the public’s use of marijuana, especially for recreational use. Marijuana has undeniable–and for many, damaging–effects on the brain, shown by increasing research evidence and deduced from simple logic and experience. Like alcohol, the substance for many is dangerous, especially to youth during prime periods of cognitive and neuronal development. Why would society wish to increase unfettered use of it?

Daily MailPsychOdyssey’s anxiety about marijuana’s dangerous association with schizophrenia is rekindled by a recent news article. The UK’s Daily Mail reported that a new Yale Medical yale_university_school_of_medicine_logo_colorStudy study on marijuana underscores the psychotic dangers of marijuana. As published in the academic journal Biological Psychiatry, the Yale study, led by Dr. Deepak S’Souza, seems to show that marijuana induces schizophrenia-like psychosis, and thus implies that marijuana can be a particularly bad substance for use by those with schizophrenia, either manifest or latent.

The research article concludes (in technical language) the following:

At doses that produced psychosis-like effects, Δ9-THC increased neural noise in humans in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, increases in neural noise were related with increases in Δ9-THC-induced psychosis-like symptoms but not negative-like symptoms. These findings suggest that increases in neural noise may contribute to the psychotomimetic effects of Δ9-THC [emphasis added].

For the link to UK Daily Mail’s news article about the Yale research study, click here.

For the link to the Biological Psychiatry abstract about the research study, click here.

For the link to Dr. Deepak D’Souza’s website and a list of his research articles about cannabis and schizophrenia, click here.

Below is a video on marijuana’s schizophrenic effects from Britain’s National Health Services:


Even pro marijuana advocates urge caution. Below is a video on physical side effects of medical cannabis… with a warning about use by those with schizophrenia (from Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana organization):


To view all of PsychOdyssey’s editorials, click here.

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