Weeding Through The Hype: Interpreting The Latest Warnings About Pot and Schizophrenia

Once again members of the mainstream media are running wild with the notion that marijuana use causes schizophrenia and psychosis.
To add insult to injury, this latest dose of reefer rhetoric comes only days after investigators in the United Kingdom reported in the prestigious scientific journal Addiction that the available evidence in support of this theory is “neither very new, nor by normal criteria, particularly compelling.” (Predictably, the conclusions of that study went all together unnoticed by the mainstream press.)
Yet today’s latest alarmist report, like those studies touting similar claims before it, fails to account for the following: If, as the authors of this latest study suggest, cannabis use is a cause of mental illness (and schizophrenia in particular), then why have diagnosed incidences of schizophrenia not paralleled rising trends in cannabis use over time?
In fact, it was only in September when investigators at the Keele University Medical School in Britain smashed the pot = schizophrenia theory to smithereens. Writing in the journal Schizophrenia Research, the team compared trends in marijuana use and incidences of schizophrenia in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2005. Researchers reported that the “incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining” during this period, even the use of cannabis among the general population was rising.
That said, none of this is to suggest that there may not be some association between marijuana use and certain psychiatric ailments. Cannabis use can correlate with mental illness for many reasons. People often turn to cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of distress. One study performed in Germany showed that cannabis offsets certain cognitive declines in schizophrenic patients. Another study demonstrated that psychotic symptoms predict later use of cannabis, suggesting that people might turn to the plant for help rather than become ill after use.
Of course, even if one takes the MSM’s latest ‘sky is falling’ scenario at face value, health risks connected with pot use — when scientifically documented — should not be seen as legitimate reasons for criminal prohibition, but instead, as reasons for the plant’s legal regulation.
For instance, as I told AOL News earlier today: “We don’t outlaw peanuts because a small percentage of people have allergic reactions. We educate the community, we regulate where and when peanuts can be exchanged. That seems like it ought to apply to marijuana, too.”
To draw another real world comparison, millions of Americans safely use ibuprofen as an effective pain reliever. However, among a minority of the population who suffer from liver and kidney problems, ibuprofen presents a legitimate and substantial health risk. However, this fact no more calls for the criminalization of ibuprofen among adults than do these latest anti-pot allegations, even if true, call for the current prohibition of cannabis.
Placed in this context, today’s warnings latest do little to advance the government’s position in favor of tightening prohibition, and provide ample ammunition to wage for its repeal.

0 thoughts

  1. i don’t know what the answer is Cory, I’m just so sad that you (and others) have to go through this kind of crap.

  2. How do we know this isn’t the lie and the studies are actually right? We just have a vested interest and are willing to believe that the studies must be wrong, or that they’re all biased against cannabis….

  3. Said in public forum: Yes I have smoked marijuana and in large quantity. This was said by our now POTUS.. come on ppl, If a Black man can be elected as President and admitted he did in fact smoke marijuana and oh yes M. Phelps… America’s greatest Olympian… smoked… hmmmm where does the media get off stirring the pot for the Govt on these issues and not reporting the truth?

  4. Dear Cory, #49
    I care. I think you should put the pot away and keep good grades in school. By that time medicinal marijuana will be legal in your state then you can go get a dr.s prescription for it. If you are on adderal, I guess you are ADHD. In your case, I would say, with your weight and height, you are totally underweight. As you get older, public acceptace will grow as much as weed. Get your school out of the way first. Then become a responsible smoker if you still want to but I suggest you tell your father that you found out that when you smoke it will help your appetite. If he gets upset, tell him to take a hit to calm him. Good luck dude! Whatever you do, don’t start drinking alcohol.

  5. Hey, I agree with Christy. Don’t drink alcohol, its very addicting and causes liver, kidney failure and people die everyday in car accidents from drinking. Drinking makes you do stupid things. Girls in the real world will not want you to drink or smoke. Just don’t ever start drinking alcohol.

  6. VOTE for Legalizing Marijuana on Change.org:
    I am hoping that MPP, NORML, SSDP, LEAP and others will use their email lists and get behind this vote. They ask us to go support their videos, questions, ideas…. so hopefully they will rally behind us and get their email lists involved. The idea has dropped into 8th place, and there are many that are very close behind. Now is the time for us to be active!
    9 days to go….
    There is time to secure our spot in the discussion and there is plenty of time to lose it. What is your choice???
    MPP, NORML, SSDP, LEAP…. Can we count on you???

  7. I use NIH’s MedlinePlus for looking up medical information. Yesterday the first thing I noticed when I visited this site was the article you refer to.
    From reading NORML links to studies, I thought this had been debunked. It just shows how little conservative ideology cares about evidence and fact-based policy.
    The number one product produced by and for U.S. consumption is FEAR!

  8. @49 Corey Says
    Corey, I’ll take a stab at giving you some advice. It doesn’t sound like you have a lot of cannabis in your system, but the bad thing is that cannabis is stored in fat tissue and you can test positive for days or weeks after your last use. Head shops have products that can beat drug tests but they’re not cheap.
    I think if your honest with your dad about your use he’ll have more respect for your choice. Especially if your use of cannabis is related to helping manage side effects of Adderal.
    I recently saw where a 10-year-old autistic boy was using cannabis. His mother said cannabis saved his life. So, there is some recent evidence that medical marijuana is NOT just for adults.
    But, until it’s legal you need to understand the position your putting your dad in.
    Good luck,

  9. First off, let me state that I am an experienced smoker; I have been smoking for over 10 years now, and I don’t plan on quiting anytime soon. With that said, some of you posters need to re-read your arguments for marijuana.
    Marijuana only causes paranoia because its illegal? No, it causes paranoia regardless, that is just one of the side effects of the drug.
    Marijuana doesn’t cause schizophrenia? Wrong again, I had a friend named Bradford who had been smoking weed for a few years, and over time he developed voices in his head. He said that he just “shook ’em off” when they first became apparent, but they started becoming worse and worse. However, once he stopped smoking weed for a few months, the voices dissipated. Just because you haven’t developed mental illnesses from smoking weed doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.
    Lastly, why won’t the government legalize nor decriminalize marijuana? Because it isn’t up to them. This marijuana prohibition is a world-wide event, and we are sitting at the top of the mountain my friends. If America legalized the plant, than citizens in other countries would want their government to do the same, and those politicians don’t want this change either. To put it simply, it’s all just a big conspiracy against us pot smokers…

  10. Shame on NORML for refusing to publish any comments which don’t agree with their interpretation of this “study.”

  11. The Truly Wrong part of this is that all of the reports Completely don’t touch on the FACT that All these studies use a base study that Came to the conclusion that ALCOHOL was found to be (up to) 8 times More likely to have effects like this study “claims”.
    But do we hear about Alcohol causing people to go Loony… NO of course not.
    This is nothing but US govt influenced global drug policy driven bias research grasping at yet another available straw. They use everything they can that has grown or depends on prohibition or would be effected by it’s end… what does Cannabis help ? depression and countless other disorders and ailments , and it does it all without pill cocktails that require a chaser pill ,,, seems like the people conducting the study stand to be effected by prohibitions end, there by are bias and any findings by them are irrelevant by nature even before the flaws are found and it is proven to be wrong!

  12. # 49 – Cory: Are you a cop? Like you’d admit to it.
    If you are not then this is my advice:
    1. Put down the cannabis and apply yourself in school.
    2. Don’t consume cannabis until you’re at least 21, and in truth, you should wait until it’s legal.
    3. Learn how to put a page break in here and there in your comment script. Blogs are not text messaging sites.
    4. Be glad your dad got pissed only.

  13. When I go to those negative stories about cannabis I say one thing that stops em in their tracks everytime:
    Alcohol kills, cannabis heals.

  14. Has anyone else noticed that every time advancement are made in cannabis law reform the prohibitionists conveniently produce a medical study that attempts to blacken cannabis use? This study was 6 years long. Yet, the results just so happen to coincide with reform victories. But, negative studies, especially for Australia, always have perfect timing that attempt to sway public opinion. Never mind that this study is just like all the other prohibitionist sponsored hit piece research. It says that marijuana/cannabis can double the risk of psychosis. But, further on it says their is no direct evidence of a link to marijuana & psychosis. However, the MSM only ran of with the info they could use to hype up the news to sell advertising & in the case of the press, sell newspapers. Just another poorly constructed (so called) study meant to damage marijuana law reforms, while well conducted research shows cannabis actually treats all manner of illness & is safer than alcohol go unreported by the NSM. Shame on the news agencies who keep marijuana laws from being reformed. Because pot prohibition grows drug cartels. But, many of the major MSM players can now tell the American people have had enough of pot prohibition & new orgs like Fox Business & fox news are reporting on the evils of pot prohibition. Political leaders & candidates now know that it’s probably wiser to call for reform, too

  15. Oh, I forgot to mention. There’s a study I’ll try to find it again. That shows cannabis use has gone up 30% over about a 30 year period, while psychosis has gone down 30%. It’s a fact that many people with mental illness successfully self titrate their cannabis use to control their disease. Now. if only the US Govt would stop being so uptight & allow researcher access to govt grown & monopolized supplies of cannabis to find out if mental patients actually do successfully control their psychosis with cannabis. But, they appear to be too afraid of the outcome to risk this idea. The Shafer Commission was supposed to recommend pot prohibition to Nixon. But, suggested allowing adults to use cannabis without penalty. Same thing happened when the ONDCP asked the IOM to find out if the ‘gateway theory’ was valid. But, they determined it wasn’t. The US Govt has learned not to risk any positive findings. So, they just pay for made to order research results that back prohibition.

  16. A thought for Cory: keep your toke materials and equipment well hidden except for just one time of day: around 5:55 a.m. Have a radio program or a discreet alarm that wakens you at that time and then serve 2-3 single tokes about 5 minutes apart, the time in between spent doing 30 IntenseWarm Wet W’s in and out of a one-liter Breadbagbreathbonnet.
    Then spend the next 3-4 hours (BEFORE ANY EATING– limit yourself to a sip or two of water) organizing your stuff for an important day. Good luck!

  17. i saw on the news fatal car accidents were down like 9.8% this last year, must be because the marijuana is getting stronger and is medically more avaliable. the recession could not be cause by the past 25 years of equal opportunity reverse descrimination.

  18. @ Cory: first of all, r u entitirely sure that your dad knew it was a pipe that he saw? cuz there’s a chance that he didn’t even realise what it was. And if he did, then the best advice i can give u, as someone that has been in similar situations on various occasions, is that u should just admit it to him and tell him u wouldn’t do it again. It’s hard to bite the bullet, but it’s definitely the best way forward.
    ps: make sure u hide it better next time, i personally like to buy stealth pipes (y’know pipes that look like other stuff; flash light, keychain etc)
    Happy toking….

  19. These studies are being sited by the “war on drug people”. But these studies are not saying pot is the cause of schizophrenia. If you dig deeper you will see that these studies are just helping us understand the effects of delusions on a person who has the disease. Recent studies have shown that every time a schizophrenic has an episode where they lose touch with reality – their disease worsens and becomes much harder to treat. Modern pot has such high levels of THC due to changes in cultivation that it does increase the chance of having an intense paranoid trip (we have all had one of those). If you are over 25 (the age when your brain is finally hardwired)and have no history of mental illness then you have no worries. If you are an adolescent with close relatives in the loony bin – well then modern pot is something you should probably skip.
    The studies are showing the potential for pot to do good too. The element that used to prevent “bad highs” (the element that has been almost breed out of pot) may be key in a safe way to prevent Schizophrenia from progressing (by actually stoping delusions from happening), and if given to someone high risk as a regular supplement, there is a chance they may never have there first episode; meaning they would never become full blown schizophrenic,…. so essentially pot may actually end up being the cure.

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