Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Less than half of 1% have experienced acute psychosis after getting stoned, Translational Psychiatry Journal study finds. Sources on cannabis psychosis located at the bottom of the article.
Prohibitionists and conservative media sources are continually claiming that using cannabis causes insanity and other mental health problems, however, clinical research studies have debunked these reefer madness misconceptions, with some claiming that psychotic conditions actually make patients more prone to use cannabis, rather than the other way around.
Researchers from Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom set out to find out how common "cannabis-associated psychotic symptoms" (CAPS) are among regular cannabis users. The authors focused on hospitalizations caused by "anxiety, panic, or psychosis-like episodes including hallucinations or paranoia." The research authors analyzed lifetime rates of CAPS among 233,475 cannabis users using Global Drug Survey data gathered between 2014 and 2019.
Is Cannabis Dangerous?
Only 0.47% of the database's almost quarter-million cannabis users had ever been hospitalised for cannabis-related psychotic symptoms. In addition, one-third of the patients who did experience these symptoms were also taking alcohol and/or other psychoactive substances at the same time. As a consequence, the proportion of patients who suffered psychotic symptoms as a direct effect of cannabis alone is less than half a percent.
The research clearly shows that the chance of developing weed-induced psychosis is quite minimal. However, for other populations, the danger is substantially larger. CAPS was 14 times more common in those who had previously been diagnosed with psychosis. CAPS was also shown to be more prevalent among those who had been diagnosed with bipolar illness, depression, or anxiety. Younger cannabis users were also 2.7 times more likely to have psychotic symptoms than older cannabis users.
Surprisingly, cannabis users in Denmark were three times as likely to develop CAPS. The study's authors hypothesized that this may be because many Danish cannabis users smoke hash or resin with a THC level of 23% or higher. People who smoked high-potency resin were likewise twice as likely to be hospitalized with CAPS in other nations. These results prompted researchers to infer that high-potency cannabis increased the incidence of psychotic symptoms, even though other studies have shown the contrary.
Many people who were hospitalized with CAPS reported having similar symptoms just after drinking high-potency items. "This data implies that long-term cannabis users may be less of a risk factor for acute psychotic symptoms," the researchers stated. The authors hypothesized that the majority of those admitted to the hospital were novice users who were "not accustomed to smoking strong types of cannabis."
The research also found that British and American cannabis users were considerably less likely to develop CAPS than Europeans, suggesting that legalization may have had a role in these findings. Several US states authorized medicinal and adult-use cannabis throughout the research period, while weed remained completely prohibited across Europe. Stoners are compelled to acquire black market cannabis, which is often polluted with hazardous chemicals, mildew, or other poisons since no legal bud is accessible. Because of this constraint, it is hard to evaluate whether any of these pollutants may be increasing the risk of psychosis.
The research also found that American cannabis users were considerably less likely to develop CAPS than Europeans, suggesting that legalization may have had a role in these findings. Several US states authorized medicinal and adult-use cannabis throughout the research period, while pot remained completely prohibited across Europe. Stoners are compelled to acquire black market cannabis, which is often polluted with hazardous chemicals, mildew, or other poisons since no legal cannabis is accessible. Because of this constraint, it is hard to evaluate whether any of these pollutants may be increasing the risk of psychosis.
Alcohol Linked To Violence, But Not Cannabis
Recent research has shown that psychotic people who use alcohol are considerably more likely to have a history of violent behaviour than those who take cannabis.
This study was undertaken by a team of researchers from Canada and Italy to investigate the relationship between drug use disorders and violence in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. This retrospective research, published recently in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, sought to determine "if cannabis use disorder is related to aggressive and/or psychotic behavior in patients admitted in a high-security facility."
The researchers used data from 124 individuals with schizophrenia or other psychotic diseases to perform the study. Because of their history of aggressive conduct, all patients had been admitted to a high-security mental health hospital. Using conventional psychiatric questionnaires, researchers analyzed each subject's lifetime history of aggression, impulsivity, and drug misuse.
According to the research, violent psychotic individuals were equally as likely to use cannabis as nonviolent patients with identical illnesses. However, aggressive patients were considerably more likely to have misused alcohol and cocaine than nonviolent ones. Cannabis usage was likewise not connected to increased impulsivity, although alcohol users were more likely to perform impulsive thoughtless gestures.
A final logistic regression analysis of the data indicated that whereas alcohol use disorder was highly related to a lifetime history of violence, cannabis, and cocaine use were not.
"These data suggest that cannabis and alcohol are widely misused and abused by psychotic individuals with a proclivity for violence," the study's authors concluded. "As a result, practitioners should take alcohol misuse, in particular, into serious consideration when assessing the dangerousness of individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders."
This study's results serve to refute stereotypes about cannabis usage increasing the likelihood of aggressive or psychotic behavior. Older studies showed links between marijuana and psychosis, and some conventional experts took these results to mean that marijuana caused psychosis directly. However, newer, more focused research has placed severe doubt on these hypotheses. The most logical explanation for these relationships, according to researchers, is that persons with schizophrenia or other mental health difficulties are more prone to use cannabis for self-medication.
Some cannabinoids may even have antipsychotic effects. Although there is evidence that THC might cause anxiety or psychotic symptoms, the current study has shown that CBD can help alleviate these symptoms.
Another new study reports that cannabis strains with equal ratios of THC and CBD are less likely to cause anxiety or other negative feelings, which may help explain why people suffering from schizophrenia or other related disorders may intentionally seek out cannabis to help alleviate these symptoms.
Can CBD Help With Psychosis?
Although anti-cannabis organizations have long claimed that regular marijuana use is a doorway to mental illness, a number of recent scientific research studies are revealing that cannabis may be an effective therapy for the symptoms of these diseases rather than a cause. New British research has validated earlier results that CBD helps alleviate psychotic symptoms, and has even gone so far as to use brain scans to determine how the cannabinoid affects the brain.
Numerous studies have shown a link between cannabis usage and mental illness. While some have speculated that marijuana use increases the likelihood of mental disease, other evidence suggests that those suffering from illnesses like schizophrenia may intentionally seek out marijuana to self-medicate. Several recent studies support this notion, demonstrating that cannabis, or specific cannabinoids like CBD, may successfully cure many of these symptoms.
A group of researchers from King's College Of London ran a study on 33 people who had been diagnosed with clinical high risk (CHR) psychosis but had never taken antipsychotic medication. These people, along with 19 healthy controls, were placed into two groups: one that got 600mg of CBD and one that received a placebo. The participants' brain activity was subsequently monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans while a verbal learning task was administered.
Researchers discovered aberrant brain activity in three areas of the brain in individuals with psychotic symptoms: the striatum, the medial temporal cortex, and the midbrain. CHR patients who took CBD, on the other hand, had reduced levels of activity in these locations. The degree of aberrant brain activity in these individuals was comparable to that of healthy people and CHR patients who did not receive CBD. "These findings imply that cannabidiol may correct dysfunction in these brain areas, which are crucial in psychosis, and that this may underpin its therapeutic benefits in psychosis," the researchers stated.
The research may have uncovered a rationale for the debate over whether cannabis might cause or alleviate symptoms of mental illness. The researchers note two earlier trials in which "a single dosage of THC elicited temporary psychotic symptoms" in individuals. The fact that specific cannabinoids may have conflicting effects on the brain may explain the uncertainty about whether cannabis usage is a danger or a benefit to persons suffering from mental illness, according to researchers.
"We knew from prior trials that CBD has antipsychotic effects," lead author Dr Sagnik Bhattacharyya told The Guardian. Following the results of this pilot experiment, the King's College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience will launch a bigger, 300-patient trial to further investigate CBD as an antipsychotic medicine. "If the study demonstrates effectiveness, the next step will be to overcome the regulatory barriers to employing CBD in the clinic to treat patients."
"A safe therapy for young individuals at risk of psychosis is urgently needed," Bhattacharyya told The Independent. "The cornerstone of modern psychosis therapy is medications that were developed in the 1950s and, regrettably, do not work for everyone." One of the primary benefits of cannabidiol is that it is safe and seems to be well tolerated, making it a perfect therapy in certain regards."