What is the Connection Between Cannabis and Psychosis?

Jacob Queen

There have been several studies showing a link between cannabis and psychosis, particularly in the case of the mental disorder schizophrenia. Some people think the connection between cannabis and psychosis is direct, while others think it is a misinterpretation of data. It is also possible that marijuana can cause a form of mild psychosis, and this could be seen as another connection between cannabis and psychosis. Many experts have used the possibility of a connection as a reason to oppose legalization of marijuana, but many marijuana enthusiasts think this position is unfounded.

Cannabis plants.
Cannabis plants.

Research has shown there is a 20- to 40-percent chance that people with schizophrenia have taken cannabis at some point in their lifetimes. This is higher than the percentage in the overall population, and most experts agree it is scientifically significant. The data also shows a particularly strong connection between juvenile marijuana use and schizophrenia.

Smoking marijuana might make a user paranoid.
Smoking marijuana might make a user paranoid.

Some experts think that the marijuana is an actual cause of schizophrenia, while others think it’s only dangerous if a person already has a risk of developing the disorder. These experts think that a person with a risk factor, like a genetic history of psychosis, for example, might have a greater chance of actually developing a problem if they smoke marijuana. There is also data to show that people who smoke marijuana very commonly have brain patterns that are similar to those seen in many schizophrenics.

Skeptics of the research data believe that experts are looking at the information from the wrong perspective. Many skeptics think that the data simply shows that people with psychotic problems are more likely to try cannabis. It is generally fairly common for people with psychotic issues to use drugs as a way to deal with the stress they experience as a result of their mental difficulties. It’s also true that people suffering from psychotic disorders are often outcasts in society, which can potentially lead to depression and substance abuse.

The one absolutely certain connection between cannabis and psychosis is the immediate temporary effect of using the drug. People who take the drug are usually unable to correctly interpret reality, and their emotional reactions to things are often wildly unpredictable and abnormal. They often have mental delusions along with severe paranoia, which are both very common symptoms of schizophrenia. Some cannabis users even suffer from mild auditory and visual hallucinations while under the influence of the drug.

People suffering from psychotic disorders are often outcasts, which may lead to drug abuse.
People suffering from psychotic disorders are often outcasts, which may lead to drug abuse.

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