A new study has found no significant link between cannabis use and psychosis, contradicting commonly-held beliefs. The study examined the association between cannabis consumption and the incidence of psychotic disorders. However, given existing concerns about the risks of psychosis and cannabis use, the authors suggest that while cannabis may not lead to psychosis, caution is still necessary.
A new study concludes that there is no significant link between cannabis consumption and the onset of psychosis, which contrasts with some previous data and other categorical statements.
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Details of the Study and Results
The researchers examined the association between cannabis consumption and the incidence of psychotic disorders in individuals with a high clinical risk of psychosis.
Current and past cannabis consumption was assessed in more than 300 people considered to be at “high clinical risk of psychosis” and 67 healthy participants.
All participants were followed for two years from the start of the study, during which they were evaluated using the Global Assessment of Functioning disability scale. The transition to psychosis and the persistence of psychotic symptoms were evaluated using the Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental States criteria.
According to the results, 16.2% of the high-risk clinical sample developed psychosis during the follow-up. Among those who did not become psychotic, 51.4% had persistent symptoms, and 48.6% were in remission.
The authors state: “There was no significant association between a measure of cannabis consumption at baseline and transition to psychosis, persistence of symptoms, or functional outcome.”
“These results contrast with epidemiological data suggesting that cannabis consumption increases the risk of psychotic disorders.”
Previous Research on Cannabis and Psychosis
Factors such as THC potency, frequency of consumption, age, loneliness, or the consumer’s genetic background can all contribute to the risk of developing psychosis. Experts generally advise caution in cannabis consumption for anyone with a family history of psychosis or who may be predisposed to developing symptoms.
However, despite the lack of conclusive evidence, concerns about the risks of psychosis are often used by opponents as an argument against drug policy reform, particularly regarding cannabis.
No Difference in Psychosis Rates Between Jurisdictions
In an article published earlier this year, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia examined commercial claims and Medicare Advantage data from more than 63 million people between 2003 and 2017.
They did not find a “statistically significant difference” in rates of psychosis-related diagnoses or antipsychotics prescribed in states with medical or recreational cannabis policies compared to those where the plant is still prohibited.
No Dose-Dependent Link Between Psychosis and Cannabis
In addition, a 2021 study examined the relationship between cannabis consumption in adolescents and psychoses that occurred in adulthood in a longitudinal twin-control analysis.
They did not identify any dose-response relationship in models that compared the twin who consumed the most cannabis to the other who consumed less in relation to the predisposition to psychosis in adulthood.
The researchers also indicated that there were no potentially different effects on the twins’ levels of cannabis exposure and the risk of developing psychosis later in life.
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