As more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, more adults are using high potency strains of the plant. A new study published in the Lancet determined that daily users of potency marijuana are five times more likely to develop psychosis than non-smokers.
America has been rolling back the prohibition of marijuana for nearly a decade. According to Leafy, eleven states permit the recreational use of the plant. In nineteen states, people can use pot for medicinal purposes.
As more people indulge in the herbal delight, researchers work to identify adverse side-effects of the drug. The study looked at individuals aged 18-64 — these people presented in psychiatric services across 11 sights in Europe and Brazil with first episode psychosis. The study was controlled by recruiting representatives that were representative of the local population.
In the findings, daily users were three times more likely to develop psychosis than non-users. Most concerning is that users of high potency marijuana were five times more likely to develop psychosis than their healthy peers.
For instance, in Amsterdam, where heavy use of high potency marijuana is common, daily users of the drug were nine times more likely to develop psychosis.
In London, heavy smokers were five times more likely to develop psychosis. For all new psychosis diagnosis in these cities, 30-50% of patients smoked high potency marijuana.
By eliminating access to the highest potency marijuana, researchers believe that first-episode psychosis diagnoses could drop considerably.
In the study’s conclusion, the authors wrote,
“Our findings confirm previous evidence of the harmful effect on mental health of daily use of cannabis, especially of high-potency types. Importantly, they indicate for the first time how cannabis use affects the incidence of psychotic disorder.
Therefore, it is of public health importance to acknowledge alongside the potential medicinal properties of some cannabis constituents the potential adverse effects that are associated with daily cannabis use, especially of high-potency varieties.”
To support their findings, researchers found other studies that support their conclusion that high potency marijuana increases the risk of psychosis. Three other studies found in Pub Med also linked the drug to psychosis. With the current research being the largest to date, containing over 900 people, this is the first time researchers have linked marijuana to psychosis.Advocates of marijuana consistently downplay that the plant can cause any negative side effects. However, scientific data is beginning to debunk the myth that the drug is harmless. Even though psychosis remains a rare adverse reaction, we should not ignore the potential long term mental health issues from daily consumption.
Perhaps the study can serve as a good reminder to users that moderation of the drug is key. Finally, if you must smoke, try to find weaker strains of the plant to reduce your risk.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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