Study: Cannabis Use Associated With Lower Mortality Risk In Patients With Psychotic Disorders

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

The use of cannabis is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, according to a forthcoming study to be published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. (Read the abstract of the study online here.)

An international team of investigators from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Inje University in South Korea assessed the impact of a lifetime history substance use on mortality in 762 subjects with schizophrenia or related disorders.

Researchers reported, “[W]e observed a lower mortality risk-adjusted variable in cannabis-users compared to cannabis non-users despite subjects having similar symptoms and anti-psychotic treatments.”

Authors speculated that the association between marijuana use and decreased mortality risk may be because “cannabis users may (be) higher functioning” and because “cannabis itself may have some health benefits.”

They concluded: “To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the risk of mortality with cannabis and alcohol in people with PD (psychotic disorders). This interesting finding of decreased mortality risk … in cannabis users is a novel finding and one that will need replication in larger epidemiological studies.”

NORML Board Member Dr. Lester Grinpoon, psychiatrist and former Harvard Medical School professor, similarly noted that the study’s findings, though promising, require replication in separate trials. “In reading the cannabis literature over the years, I have learned to be somewhat skeptical about any single report and to maintain a ‘wait and see’ posture as new data eventually flesh out the reality,” he said.

To date the association between cannabis use and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia is not well understood. While some studies have associated cannabis use with higher cognitive functioning – including better performance on measures of processing speed and verbal skills – other research has implied that cannabis use, particularly heavy use at an early age, may precipitate or exacerbate the disease in those already vulnerable to it. Other experts have criticized this purported link to be “overstated” and not “particularly compelling,” noting that increased levels of cannabis use by the general public has not yet been positively associated with proportionally rising incidences of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.

Full text of the study, “Alcohol and cannabis use and mortality in people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders,” will appear in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Additional information on cannabis use and mental illness, please see the NORML white paper, “Cannabis, Mental Health, and Context.”

34 thoughts

  1. Cannabis is definitely great in reducing the mortality rate, especially in those with suicidal ideation, but chronic use puts most in a perpetual cycle of delaying long-term help. I think, like SSRIs, cannabis will be a novel source of information and medical use. That time has not yet come.

  2. Marijuana prohibition is the result of mental illness. The name of that illness is borderline personality disorder. It basically causes people to misinterpret reality so that something safe can appear menacing and the reverse, “the guy that beats me really does love me”. Borderliners are also extremely convincing, like so many of our lying politicians. They don’t see a need to control themselves, they only see a need to control you and they’re on a mission to do so.

  3. ^ so not true ^
    Cannabis can turn a rage into nothing, in just one little bit. Borderlines are borderlines- cannibis use is not mutually exclusive….It basically calms a person down..surely there is a chemical/biological reason…it does not change your awareness of a situation~only your biochemical reaction to it. Youve got too many thoughts goin at once there- perhaps you should go burn one. 🙂

  4. IVE BEEN OFF MY ANTI-PSYCHOTIC MEDICATIONS 5 YEARS WITH THE HELP OF A DAILY CANNABIS INTAKE, WITH LITTLE TO KNOW ADVERSE SIDE EFFECTS. my official diagnosis is to long to put in a comment but i got off 3000 mg of various drugs and switched to cannabis, so far Ive only had a handful of minor psychotic episodes since the switch but they are all manageable with a little effort.

  5. There’s like a million reasons to legalize it and like NO legitimate reasons to keep this unwinnable war against our own citizens going. I have paranoid schizophrenia and depression. I don’t have depression when I have even a dime bag and schizophrenia is fun with weed. I have no money and no weed now. But I do have fun cigarettes! Just kidding, they’re not fun. They just help pass the time until I can feel good again. Looks like I’m almost out of cigarettes…

  6. RLS, I think you missed my point. Marijuana doesn’t cause borderline personality disorder. It is folks afflicted with BPD that are also Prohibitionists. This is why we cannot reason with them and they’re so damn flaky they institute policies which don’t make much sense. They say, “We made pot illegal to keep us safe.” But that is a bold faced lie. Only borderliners can convince themselves to become the very thing they say they hate. What we really get from them is vibrant cities turned into ghettos, poor folks that have been robbed of their American Dreams, terrorism on our Mexican Border–most of it in Mexico, 1,000’s of innocent people in jail and that’s just the tip of all the damage these demented “protectors” bring us.

    1. Let’s get something straight.
      BPD afflicts women more than men. Most of the causes of BPD are environmental. The people who are BPD are actually abuse survivors. The sad truth is, women get victimized more than men.

      Most BPD people would rather push people away hurt them. You see, they don’t want to get too close because if they do. Someone who is misonformed may mistreat them, sonbefore you fire up the ovens. Remember, everyone suffers, stop the stigma.

      Ponder this, do you know why more
      men aren’t admitting that they have BPD? Because they are committing suicide. Also, you wouldn’t call a soldier crazy, and BPD is no more than PTSD with a scary name, and you wouldn’t bad mouth a soldier? Would you? I wouldn’t. Legalize Regulate and feel well!

  7. this is one of the reasons i support cannabis….because of bi polar/ adhd issues, i can overcome those problems with just a couple of inhales…my mind runs a million miles an hour at times and while consuming the remedy in small quanities, it is well controled.granted , im still a nutcase but, im a damn happy one. was that is, since three years ago when my job of thirty three years began hair testing. i havent been the same since. life is sucking these three years , goin on four. i actually fear for my health since i cannot consume the remedy anymore…we need support folks..get up an tell the folks who dont know…..TELL THEM !!

  8. Quite simple really. Use of herb increases appreciation of immediate present and desire to live. Mental health difficulties is associated with decreased appreciation of present and lack of desire to live.
    Goverment insensitivity and social cruelty also decreases the ability for the unfortunate to appreciate life.
    Politicians make a game of punishing the unfortunate by writing and enforcing laws to persecute those who would smoke herb.
    Those with heart and soul see no need for draconian laws. Those with no heart and soul demand such laws be rigorously enforced. Those who would vote against providing health care to the poor would also demand pot to stay illegal. It is the same mindset, and is a characteristic of my enemy the devil.

  9. I have borderline…I have been put on many pills…cannabis is the only thing that works to keep me mellow and maintain my perspective.

    ignore the Dave Evans post…it’s. pretty far off the mark

  10. Yeah, God invented pot and it’s not as though he didn’t know we were going to smoke it. No one sits around worrying if Santa Claus is real or not (which is why my “name” is what you see). Anyone who does pot after 10-15 minutes after first use realizes that it is ALL good. They get a great feeling, their vision gets “better to look at” and they might just feel SO good that they start laughing “at nothing.” Unfortunately a good number of “good people” listen to government propaganda when they say things like “weed has it’s roots in hell,” “it leads to heroin, crack, and pcp,” and various other BULL SHIT. But bad people like our “justices” lawmakers and supreme court judges want only to keep their jobs and their pay so they want to take us back to the stone age with awful, unfair laws or keep things the same. I don’t know who’s worse, the politicians or the “good people” who go for their ways and laws blindly. Weed was legal in Jesus’ time- he could have smoked it himself. You don’t KNOW he didn’t. And look at the GOOD that came out of that time. Weed was legal when the United States was created. People have smoked it for 5 thousand years. The earliest finding of that was in ROMANIA where they found BURNT cannabis seeds in a TEMPLE. I hoped they learned to de-seed it by then. It CAN’T and WON’T kill you. It has THOUSANDS of good uses, 0 bad affects unless you drive down a highway smokin’ a blunt doing 110. I actually believe in 2 Gods, 1 male and 1 female (that’s why we have men AND women). Feeling good should be legal. We don’t even have freedom of reality in this country and thanks to stupid assholes in USA in every other country too. You’d have to go to Antarctica to legally feel the way you want to or think the way you want to. Those assholes must get off on ruining our time and fighting this stupid ass crusade of a less then holy nature. I’d like to drop a few drops of LSD into their water glasses. Then they’d feel so good it would be a preview of heaven… on earth.

  11. Well Beez, maybe if you weren’t so darn overly defensive all the time, you might have noticed I wasn’t talking about you! You’re getting help for your condition.

    Prohibitionists just continue to hide behind their lies, unable to admit they were wrong and they took us all down the wrong path. Hiding from their mistakes and not admitting to them has become more important that following the constitution and doing the right things. These folks are completely unaware they are borderline, but following their advice and policies are getting people killed on a daily basis.

  12. St Nick,

    Jesus treated people with marijuana, mixed it with other healing herbs and oils.

  13. Here is another medical/psychological use for cannabis that should be studied – “Anger Management”. I know for an absolute fact that I have much much better control of my temper when I have cannabis in my system. In fact – my wife likes me better after I have endulged! It’s not that I’m always angry or mean, it’s just that the difference is noticeable. I believe that it may make even more difference in people that actually have anger problems.

  14. Cannabis . “loco weed” isn’t good for assoc 🙂
    high mind of the thought to begin why the old*
    Elizabethean Counsel said , manna. pot. The uh
    loco weed in question isn’t good for the men *
    who found it at Columbus travels to Brasilia.,
    and not to say they are not known to look up n
    the sky and dance and ‘jeer’ at what the cloud
    cover is doing up there . . at the travels to~
    New World with “loco manna” as Cray~z Wydd 😀

    OK. Hi guys . . Are You CrayZ inSANE *GeoMen*?

    Schizo*phe$ren!ia! isn’t a real condition now@
    according to actual Freud who debunked it. 😀

    The write up of Freud’s work on Austrian thots
    got lambasted and re-written by a Kraut who .,
    wanted the role of Iron Fist (curtain) ideal$n
    to show he did not give thought to Master Edit
    as the role of proper accord with ideal future
    without the role of his Nature Thought idealen
    as the role of proper thought to begin sanity.

    Natural Cannabis brings sanity to the higher!!
    affected thoughts at reguard to former “high”%
    thoughts and “mental worsome in case of high!”
    ~problem with fascist regard to the horrible #
    acts of sensual violence *schizopherianacs* uh
    promote to begin the craven of term: “b~laven”
    and it may be debunked with some sweet sensi~#
    milla . “sorry to bother facsism though. fact”
    !! harm reduction will want good natural .org*
    cannabis manna ~pot . Thanks and Hooray 😀 🙂

    My condition without being B~laven CrayZinSANe
    is Terrete’s Chrons not money though *happy* N
    Terrete’s home hearing disorder . Sums it up .

    Terrete’s tell people off . It avoids ultimate
    evil and doesn’t like “Rennaissance Medici” uh
    reason of additive to medication . Huh, Medici
    isn’t referring to the Italian RenAISense Gold
    banker ., guy . . it’s mensual pain med*i!ci!*
    pronounced med i si{y} nurse[Y]s who wanted uh
    treatment for pain and invention of the needle
    to show they are problem with money and charit
    i ous reguard to guarded “cannabel polite” uh~
    thought as canna.bis not the cannabis products
    though a “dream nomible product” would appear$
    good and polite with a sinister undetected uhm
    evil about the role of fascien and “evoil” pot
    as “pot” is a word in case of [fash *en] newer
    thought to not allow the regard of statement @
    not showing what would be the likes of Arthur#
    regard to show the Mythic of former Monarchy.s
    not requited to the “Lore” of uncopied Kingdom
    etcetera affected the Elizabethian Counsel on%
    bringing pot home from the New World and it uh
    bein{g} “loco weed” known as prohibition dollr
    payment for continued greed known as the drugs
    “stoned” enforcement keyword :#: “ma ri juana”
    so it’s been said enough by Tea Party . . , !!
    “M a ri jua na” is the DEA Keyword for prohibi
    tio~n dollar greed payment to Republic[en] @!!
    payment for the Skull n Bones thoughts on Nazi
    co~mingle as the regard of Peace and The{g}n*~
    Iron Fist of Domain and [control] office of uh
    Reform and will be known by the actual leaders
    at NORML [2] 😀 😀 as ** cannabis ** allgood
    referring the newer Decrim2 care of Manna P @!
    [P] meaning psychology not primary case and @!
    not referring to money copy given to guardian~
    as the role of apparent money copy Republic~en
    to pay bills and “have not anything to show fr
    it” will be to now deny taken money and begin~
    the free debit system at home life mental gent
    [gen.t being gen {japonas}: health . a word .]
    @!! #$ ~pot etcetera 🙂 🙂 thanks .and hooray*
    so we may begin Decrim2 at Midwest {I won’t uh
    say it’s my spurious delusive to begin (*sigh)
    a Tri Cam.eral Kingdom with _\|/_ / GreenSmoke
    care of the Manna P Decrim2 regard .,. allgood
    and begin the ruling to deny mentaGen fascien$
    ~ism . . . is all I wanted to say . PeaceN~pot
    Thank You kind people . yer all {kind} . _\|/_
    ~ please allow all said as written . MannaNpax
    thanks . former Comm. Directory midwest office
    not NORML major “intern” whatever {sigh} Bryan

  15. H~allo . typos . fasc*ism is in uh dictionary.

    Renaissance is with one N . I’m good with [Nn]

    Thanks . Peace . info2 :*: 😀 😀 Bryan _\|/_
    Green Smoke and KansasP Decrim2 . , . Hooray .

  16. jeremy p…..yes…that too ma man!! even temper means happier society….

  17. I have a dream – its very simple. Our elected officials (federal,state and local) should be required to take drug tests like any American getting a new job or like other public employees such as firemen and police who are subject to periodic on going tests. Let them get a taste of prohibition and the police state. Things may change. DEMAND DRUG TESTING OF PUBLIC OFFICALS!!

    Just think of the jobs it will create.

  18. OK folks its time to make a stand.

    The only thing that can get things done is money and votes. Most of us have voting rights, some have money. If ya have some money to spare – contribute to Normal or a like organization and/or email this message to your elected officials and stand firm. Also send to like minded friends and family:

    To the President, Members of the US Congress, State and local elected officials:

    Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965 with over 800,000 arrests in 2010 and each year the number increases. The problem is getting worse – not because of the benign plant, but because of the obsolete laws. The time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.

    I can no longer vote for elected officials that support the the current laws. I have decided not to vote for any politician that does not publicly support the removal of all penalties for the private possession and endorse responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.


    Voting Citizen
    & Member of the Movement

  19. Bob, not the worst idea, but how about we just drop the whole, “Hey guys, lets blame pot and pot heads for the country’s problems.” program both the democrats and republicans have been pushing for decades. They simply didn’t want to admit their social experiments are Un-American and a perversion of our constitution.

    Once pot is legal, they will turn their attention to taking away our rights via some other fictional “crisis” we “need protection from”. Isn’t a crime to make up stories about people and prosecute them based on those stories? Isn’t this a legal term:

    Hearsay is all marijuana prohibition is and it already is illegal, has never been legal, and people’s bogus convictions need to be reversed now.

  20. Dave, you have a very misinformed idea of what borderline personality disorder is. I’m a person with BPD and a national mental health care activist. I recovered through dialectical behavior therapy, and I now educate patients, families, and clinicians about the disorder. I got therapy precisely BECAUSE I saw a need to control myself. I very much wanted to; I just didn’t know how to do it until I got the proper treatment. I am not a terrorist, I am not responsible for marijuana prohibition, I am not a creator of ghettos, and I am not a liar. I hope you’ll consider reading Marsha Linehan’s and Leland Heller’s work in order to understand the disorder better. I am all for marijuana legalization, and I’m doing volunteer work to help it happen. Please try to understand and find some empathy for people with BPD.

  21. I have BPD. Diagnosed late in life, after a lifetime of problems, and searching for answers. In the meantime, I believe smoking saved my life. Now tell that to the authorities so I can rebuild a life worth living, free of shame and persecution, armed with a drug that helps me, and the research the same authorities use to stigmatize me and pontificate that I am incurable. Which is their way of saying, ‘we are too lazy to keep up with the research, so much easier to charge you instead’

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