Study: No Significant Association Between Cannabis Use, Developing Psychosis

While experts have argued in the past that the link between psychosis and cannabis is overstated, another study published just last year linked increased risk of psychosis and addiction to high-potency cannabis.

Now, a new study published in the journal Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences is sharing another perspective, finding that cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis, even among those predisposed to the disorder. 

The research was conducted by a team of investigators from Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Exploring Psychosis and Cannabis

The authors point to the history of research on this specific issue, adding that there have been “limited prospective studies” on the topic and that “the direction of this association remains controversial.”

They describe the study’s primary aim, “to examine the association between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders in people at clinical high risk of psychosis.” Researchers were also looking to assess associations between “cannabis use and the persistence of psychotic symptoms, and with functional outcome.”

For this study, researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders in clinically at-risk subjects. The study analyzed 334 individuals who are at high risk of developing psychosis, along with 67 healthy control subjects at baseline. The investigators then followed up on the participants over a two-year period using a modified version of the Cannabis Experience Questionnaire.

During the follow up, 16.2% of the clinical high-risk sample developed psychosis. Of those who did not develop psychosis, 51.4% had persistent symptoms and 48.6% were in remission. 

Authors ultimately stated, “There was no significant association between any measure of cannabis use at baseline and either transition to psychosis, the persistence of symptoms, or functional outcome.” They added that the findings “contrast with epidemiological data that suggest that cannabis use increases the risk of psychotic disorder.”

A Potentially Misunderstood Topic

The findings are indeed contrary to a number of other recent studies on cannabis and psychosis, though there may be more to this conversation than initially meets the eye. 

A 2016 review of previous research published by The Lancet (the journal which also published the 2022 study) found that people already experiencing psychosis can improve outcomes by reducing or eliminating cannabis use. This essentially shows that cannabis does not exhibit a causal relationship to psychosis. 

While people with psychotic illnesses may use cannabis and other substances more often, studies showing lifetime incidences of acute cannabis-induced psychosis in the general population are still rare.

This study specifically showed that, even among those predisposed to psychosis, a history of cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of developing the illness. While authors noted that further research is still needed to understand the relationship between cannabis use and mental health outcomes, these findings could help to shift perspectives on policy and healthcare in the future.

Affirming Previous Findings

It’s also not the only study to come to a similar conclusion. 

A 2022 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry analyzed emergency room data related to cannabis-induced psychosis. Researchers concluded that the implementation of Canada’s cannabis legalization program “was not associated with evidence of significant changes in cannabis-induced psychosis or schizophrenia ED presentations.”

A similar study, published in January 2023 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the same question in relation to the United States, analyzing data from 2003 to 2017. Researchers came to the same conclusion, “The findings of this study do not support an association between state policies legalizing cannabis and psychosis-related outcomes.”

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Can Cannabis Cause Psychosis?

Can cannabis cause psychosis? Public health busybodies will list negative aspects of cannabis as an argument either against legalization or for the “public health” model of legalization (which, in Canada’s case, has been a complete failure). So if you’re playing public health bingo, you can stamp psychosis next to anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and other “harms” associated with cannabis. Of course, only .047% of cannabis consumers seek medical help for psychosis. So what’s the rationale behind this belief? Or is […]

The post Can Cannabis Cause Psychosis? appeared first on Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana | News.


There’s a new wave of anti-cannabis sentiment going around in America—it’s scaring the living shit out of me and it should be scaring you, too.

If you’ve been paying attention to major newspapers, and local or cable news networks over the past few months, I’m sure you’ve noticed it. Every week there is a new story or segment that proposes a connection between cannabis and psychosis, violent crime, hospitalizations, and more. The underlying data is either anecdotal, heavily stretched to fit a narrative, old, or all of the above, and the stories rarely offer context about the tens of millions of cannabis users in the country, but these stories keep on popping up, and now they’re gaining traction.

How did we go from a decade-plus of incredibly successful state-specific legalization initiatives, billion-dollar taxed and regulated industries emerging from the shadows, and a reduction of the plant’s stigma to its lowest point in over a century, to a situation where pundits are comfortable blaming mass shootings on weed?

This new-millennium era of reefer madness first hit the mainstream in 2019 with the book Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, by Alex Berenson, a one-time journalist who was temporarily banned from Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. Full of misleading statistics and anecdotes about wacky tobaccy turning regular Americans into crazed killers, Berenson paints cannabis as a societal scourge unraveling the nation’s social fabric one hit at a time. At the time of its release, Tell Your Children received a long and validating review in The New Yorker by popular author Malcolm Gladwell titled “Is Marijuana As Safe As We Think?”

That framing is important. Berenson’s book is clear about his own personal feelings: “Marijuana causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence. The obvious implication is that marijuana causes violence.” But Gladwell posed his review as a question. Gladwell isn’t sure if Berenson’s hypothesis is right, but he finds the question compelling enough to repeat from his giant megaphone, even though critical readers found plenty of good reasons not to do the same.

Thankfully, Barenson’s book was largely panned by critics as “an exercise in cherry-picking data and presenting correlation as causation.” But a few years later, it seems Gladwell’s naive repetition was just as influential.

In late June, The New York Times published an article titled “Psychosis, Addiction, Chronic Vomiting: As Weed Becomes More Potent, Teens Are Getting Sick.” Like Berenson’s work before it, and Gladwell’s review, the story questions the success of the cannabis legalization movement and, relying heavily on anecdotal evidence about struggling teenagers using cannabis and selective data to fit the narrative that high-powered weed products developed in the post-legalization landscape are new, dangerous, and corrupting your kids. It begs the same big question once again: What if weed is more dangerous than we thought?

What the article doesn’t note, of course, is that some of these questions already have answers. For example, there is no mention of the centuries of global hashish consumption (concentrated cannabis is anything but new) or the fact that the unregulated vape cartridges that teenagers typically have access to described and maligned in the story’s anecdotes routinely test with THC numbers closer to 40%, and not 90+% as the story suggests. In asking you to consider whether or not weed is dangerous, the Times article also misses the tens of millions of American adults and, yes, teenagers, who use cannabis daily without issue—and dare I say even some benefits.

The Times story also does not mention that its most frequently cited study clearly states a lack of comprehensive research on the subject and readily admits that “Studies on this topic define high potency cannabis as products with 10% or more THC. There are no published studies investigating the association between products available in the U.S. legal market (60%-90% THC) and the onset of first-episode psychosis or on increases of symptoms in those who have a psychotic disorder.”

In other words, there is no data about the specific questions being asked about this supposedly new high-potency cannabis, psychosis, and violence and there will never be answers without more research—research that is not possible if cannabis is still restricted to Schedule I status by the federal government. But in the face of far more positive research and anecdotal evidence about pot than negative, why are these studies, stories, and pundits making conclusive statements about the dangers of “new weed” if the data don’t even exist?

Like Gladwell’s book review in 2019, the recent New York Times story did include minor caveats about the need for more research and one pro-cannabis viewpoint, but this time, the headline question has quickly found its way to the right-wing outrage cycle, where, in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas and again on July 4th in Highland Park, Illinois, Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingram ranted about a connection between cannabis use and at least four mass shootings, drawing a direct causal connection without any supporting evidence.

These tactics are not new or isolated to cannabis. Across the country, you can watch people make foundationless leaps and adopt the language and attitudes of right-wing extremists under the guise of supposedly well-meaning inquires. It is eerily similar to the playbook currently being used to attack, dehumanize, and criminalize trans people in every corner of society, to cast gay school teachers as “groomers” or to create a boogeyman out of critical race theory. It is scary how quickly fascist lies take hold and turn fringe ideas into legislation like bathroom bills and book bannings, and to think that cannabis is exempt from those forces, or that weed won’t be used as a tool to further persecute minority groups is ahistorical and naive.

Instead of investigating the slew of interconnected factors making life in America more stressful, depressing, dangerous, and financially precarious for most of us, the Ingrams and Carlsons of the world are happy to single out the other as the root of all evil, no matter how far-fetched the reasoning.

Still think legalization has come too far and that the same forces behind the country’s openly antagonistic embrace of public racism, homophobia, and transphobia can’t possibly make their way back to cannabis? Look no further than the tragic situation of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner. Despite obvious political motivations behind her arrest and sentencing in Russia, and even with the U.S. government clear about her status as a wrongfully detained prisoner, America’s right-wing has sided with Putin. From Twitter trolls to cable news pundits and even the 45th president, the right-wing narrative is to blame Griner for her arrest, painting the never-proven allegations of possessing two half-gram vape cartridges as a personal moral failure deserving of the outlandish punishment. In a radio interview, Trump passionately blamed Griner for her imprisonment, asserting that she was “loaded up with drugs” in the same week that he praised the idea of swiftly executing drug dealers.

In a country where cannabis is still illegal at the federal level and research remains heavily restricted, using stories about depressed teenagers who happen to have vape-cart habits to drum up fears about super weed altering the brains of the nation’s youth won’t inspire research or lead to nuanced conversations about THC percentages in legal products; it will simply further criminalization.

As we saw during the first 85 years of prohibition, fearmongering doesn’t stop anyone from using cannabis; it punishes them for it. And with a majority of U.S. public schools now keeping at least one police officer on campus at all times and America still being, well, America, heightened enforcement of youth cannabis use will no doubt mean further criminalization of Black and brown teenagers.

Despite progress made by state-specific legalization, cannabis-induced psychosis and violence rhetoric is already influencing politicians. Laughed out of the room just a few years ago, Alex Berenson is now back riding the bolstered wave of reefer madness and was recently called as a witness before the United States Senate during the legislature’s hearing on federal cannabis legalization, during which he cited the recent Times article as a direct example of the changing attitudes towards anti-cannabis sentiments, using anecdotes from that specific story to lobby legislators against federal cannabis legalization.

“I was not surprised when advocates and industry executives harshly criticized and tried to discredit Tell Your Children,” Berenson testified. “Now, however – only three-and-a-half years later – the truth about the connection between cannabis and psychosis appears to be becoming so obvious that even outlets that have been staunchly pro-legalization cannot ignore them. Since 2014, The New York Times has called for cannabis legalization. Last month, however, the Times published a long article headlined ‘Psychosis, Addiction, Chronic Vomiting: As Weed Becomes More Potent, Teens Are Getting Sick.’ The Times is correct that cannabis has become far, far more potent.”

In every recent national poll about cannabis legalization, nearly 70% of all Americans say they are ready to finally flip the switch on prohibition. Democrats, Republicans, black, white, young, old—huge numbers of Americans of all demographics support cannabis legalization. But at the end of the day, this is still America, and there’s no automatic connection between the policies we want and what happens—just look at health care. If thoughtful people don’t start speaking up clearly and loudly about the damage being done by the current wave of reefer madness, the consequences could significantly fuck up the progress we have made over the past decades. That would be far more dangerous than any new strain of super weed.

The post JUST SAY NO TO THE NEW REEFER MADNESS appeared first on High Times.

Does Cannabis Cause Psychosis: Coincidence or Causation

She had already had a history of major depression, but then the 20-year-old woman started cutting and electrocuting herself. At the psychiatric ward, looking for an explanation or a cause, doctors noticed that before she’d checked into a hospital, she’d already been in the ICU—for “vaping-related lung injury” after “recurrent, severe, and heavy THC use.”

And that, according to the presentation made by Michigan-based psychiatrist Chad Percifield, to the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting, was enough to finger her cannabis consumption as a potential cause—and enough to warn other heavy cannabis users that they could be next to have a mental break.

“Research has previously shown that individuals who consume THC are three times as likely as those who do not to develop a psychotic disorder,” Percifield told the Midland Daily News. This was one in a series of media reports and scientific studies suggesting a link between cannabis use and psychosis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association as well as The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page—under the sub-headline “Port and psychosis link is real, researchers say.”

But is it? And how real—if you’re of sound mental health, will a couple of pulls from your vape pen push you over the line? And how should cannabis users and advocates react to news of cannabis coexisting with psychotic breaks, often dishonestly framed as a causal link and cause to re-evaluate or delay marijuana legalization plans?

Smoke, Then Break?

Psychosis is defined as a break from “reality” that usually manifests as hallucinations or delusions—hearing or seeing something that other people can’t see or hear, such as voices or sounds. Cannabis-induced psychosis is a disconnect from reality that occurs during cannabis use, or shortly thereafter.

According to researchers, this phenomenon is real. Jeffrey Chen, a physician and founder of the University of California, Los Angeles’s Cannabis Research Initiative wrote, “Cannabis-induced psychosis has emerged as one rare but serious side effect to consider.” However, he adds, while literature suggests a “strong link” between using cannabis and developing psychotic symptoms, “experts have yet to discover the exact nature of that link.”

Meaning, researchers aren’t sure if cannabis causes psychosis, or triggers or exacerbates underlying symptoms.

(Keep in mind that substance abuse generally coexists with mental-health problems. Victims of trauma tend to use alcohol and other drugs more heavily than the general population, but that doesn’t mean that the alcohol caused the behavioral health problems.)

And that’s the problem with most of the studies.

A prominent study that earned media in mid-July, suggested a link between cannabis and psychosis, and according to Michael Backes, a researcher and author of Cannabis Pharmacy: A Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana: it assumes that cannabis was causal when it could simply co-relate.

The Missing Link

In July, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study out of Denmark that found the number of schizophrenia diagnoses “associated with cannabis use disorder” had increased from 2 percent in 1995 to 8 percent since 2010, as CNN wrote when reporting on the study. However, the study simply noticed the increase of sufferers of schizophrenia that also reported problematic cannabis use (something that people may have been less comfortable sharing with their doctors in the 1990s).

“In studies like this one, people seeking treatment for cannabis issues appear to have higher incidence of schizophrenia,” Backes told Cannabis Now. “But are the symptoms of schizophrenia driving some of these individuals toward cannabis in an attempt to self-treat their symptoms?”

“There is not enough evidence to support an assertion that cannabis is a cause,” he added.

In other words, cannabis users who developed psychosis or dependence problems may also have worn belts, or used money, or had poor diets, yet these aren’t fingered as the causal factors. And that same report on the study noted that “most cannabis users, even those who are dependent on it, never seek treatment and many people use it recreationally without developing problems.”

So, what, then, is the best way to understand cannabis and mental-health problems—and how should researchers, policymakers, and the public best understand the issue?

Debate of Substance

In Colorado, concerns over young people using too much high-potency THC oil helped trigger new legislation that requires people under 21 to visit two separate doctors before receiving a medical-cannabis recommendation. That new law also limits how much high-potency cannabis they can purchase.

This didn’t impress Joe Schrank. Schrank runs The Heavenly Center, a Los Angeles-based recovery clinic that allows its inpatients—there to recover from opioid addictions and alcohol addictions—to use cannabis.

If policymakers wanted “to do something about what harms young people,” they would “address alcohol,” Schrank said in a statement.

“Cannabis should be regulated, but alcohol kills 1800 young adults a year, cannabis kills zero,” he added. “We’re chasing the wrong thing.”

Schrank’s contrarian take is in part inspired by researchers like Percifield—who, in his interview with the Midland Daily News, made an increasingly typical assertion (that neither his findings at the APA nor other research supported).

As he observed, cannabis oil in vaporizer pens has more THC by volume than cannabis flower. Flower might have 15 to 20 percent; oil might have 50 to 70 percent or more. According to Percifield, “vaping solutions increase this risk [of a psychotic episode] more than sixfold due to the potency of the vaping solution, which on average contains 52% THC versus the 13% THC contained in the marijuana flower,” as he said in his Midland News interview.

Until the science develops on this issue, consumers of both news and cannabis should be aware how these findings can be distorted or framed to suit political ends. At the same time, dismissing cannabis’s potential to exacerbate mental health problems shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

The post Does Cannabis Cause Psychosis: Coincidence or Causation appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Cannabis-Induced Psychosis Unravelled

Substantial claims, mistargeted research, and biased studies. These are characteristics of the muddy waters comprising cannabis research, but one tale remains stuck. Cannabis induced psychosis seems to be discussed without a proper analysis time and time again. So what is really going on? Refer madness – or awareness? Before answering that, let’s look at what […]

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New Tragedies, Same Tactics: A History of Big Media Blaming Cannabis for Mass Shootings

CANNABIS CULTURE – *This article contains images and subject matter that may disturb some readers. “Marijuana is not going to make you go out and massacre school kids or abortion providers. This happens because we live in a country that glorifies the god of violence and his sacred warriors.” The CIA As Organized Crime, Douglas Valentine, Clarity Press, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, 2017, p. 173     So the New York Post – notorious for pushing…