Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marijuana Panic Revisited

U.K. journal casts doubt on psychosis connection.

In May of this year, The University College of London reports that different strains of marijuana cause different types of psychological maladies. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Brown "publically described new strains of cannabis as 'lethal,' as if they could trigger a fatal overdose," according to an editorial in the Guardian. (See "U.K. Marijuana Panic Continues"). And in August, a mental health story run by the London Daily Mail claimed that smoking a single joint of marijuana increased the risk of developing schizophrenia by 41 per cent—an erroneous statistic that was also hotly contested by various U.K. drug experts. (See "Media Suffers Attack of Cannabis Psychosis").

Now comes a review article from the British Journal of Psychiatry, published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, strongly suggesting that the odds of an association between cannabis and psychosis is “low.”

A group of drug experts and psychiatrists, including scientists from the University of Bristol, Imperial College London, Cambridge University, and Cardiff University undertook to “systematically review the evidence pertaining to whether cannabis affects outcome of psychotic disorders.”

The group searched relevant databases and compiled a list of more than 15,000 relevant references. A total of 13 longitudinal studies were included in the quality assessment.

The authors concluded that, despite prevailing clinical opinion, it remained “unclear” whether cannabis led to worse outcomes for people with psychosis, “or whether this impression is confounded by other factors. Specifically, the review authors noted that “few studies adjusted for baseline illness severity, and most made no adjustment for alcohol, or other potentially important confounders. Adjusting for even a few confounders often resulted in substantial attenuation of results.”

In the end, “confidence that most associations were specifically due to cannabis is low.”

Graphics Credit: COSMOS


AddictionBlog said...

Back and forth, eh? Just goes to show you how political figures and newspapers adore the sensational. Thanks for sharing about the most recent SCIENTIFIC findings. Very rarely did pot do anything but create a sense of euphoria for me...psychosis is kind of out of the question, I believe.

price-stonehill said...

I agree with the idea that pot does nothing to you besides create a euphoria that makes you feel like you are top of the world. I do not think that it could do anything else because I know people that smoke pot all the time and they have full time jobs and everything. Pot is become the drug of choice and it is mostly decriminalized throughout the whole world.

Dirk Hanson said...

"I know people that smoke pot all the time and they have full time jobs and everything."
So do I. But I also know people who got heavily addicted and blew money, relationships, and a lot of time on weed. I'm fascinated by this idea that the drug--or any drug--effects everyone the same way. It just isn't so.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'm a 66-year-old regular M smoker. In my twenties I had 3 or 4 psychotic experiences w/M. I also have four certified paranoid schizophrenic friends. There is no doubt in my mind that my experiences pretty much nirrored what they experience every day. Delusions approaching hallucinations, inability to follow or make conversation, delusional paranoia. I was just having a conversation with a shrink and we were talking about "kindling"...where an experience or brain pathway is strenghthend by simply occuring. In my case, the experiences did not follow me out of my youth. Lucky me.

Anonymous said...

but this would imply that someone who doesn't "want" to quit is not addicted to a substance(like my wife and cigs) or conversely that people can be addicted to chocolate. It's only helpful along with a galaxy of other factors.

I know plenty of people who smoke dope, but seldom , because they just "smoke it till it's gone" but don't then experience "cravings". That's the problem with a "science" of addiction.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for reviving a dead thread but a response to that last poster. The METHOD OF INGESTION causes lung cancer etc. Smoke out of a vaporizer. I think marijuana might bring on an episode of psychosis or schizophrenia in some, but they are not side effects in the healthy population. Marijuana is not dangerous, in fact it less dangerous than most psychiatric medications. Type in paxil withdrawals or perhaps tardive dsykenesia cause my anti-psychotics. Marijuana might have saved my life, was the only thing that helped me. People like you are the problem, ignorance.

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