Latest Research On Pot and Schizophrenia Runs Contrary to Mainstream Media Hype

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 26, 2010

    The mainstream media loves to spill ink hyping the allegation that marijuana causes mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. In fact, it was in March when international media outlets declared that cannabis use ‘doubled’ one’s risk of developing the disease. Yet when research appears in scientific journals rebuking just this sort of ‘reefer madness,’ it generally goes unreported.

    Such is the case with a pair of just-published studies slated to appear in the journal Schizophrenia Research. The first study, conducted by a team of researchers at various New York state hospitals, the Yale University School of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Mental Health assessed whether there exists a causal association between cannabis use and the age of onset of psychosis in patients hospitalized for the first time for an episode of schizophrenia.

    Despite previous media claims to the contrary, researchers concluded:
    “Although the onset of cannabis use disorder preceded the onset of illness in most patients, our findings suggest that age at onset of psychosis was not associated with cannabis use disorders. Previous studies implicating cannabis use disorders in schizophrenia may need to more comprehensively assess the relationship between cannabis use disorders and schizophrenia, and take into account the additional variables that we found associated with cannabis use disorders.”

    A separate study slated for publication in the same journal assessed the cognitive skills of schizophrenic patients with a history of cannabis use compared to non-users. Authors reported that patients with a history of marijuana use “demonstrated significantly better performance on measures of processing speed, verbal fluency, and verbal learning and memory” compared to abstainers. Marijuana use was also associated with better overall GAF (Global Assessment of Functioning) scores compared to those of non-users.

    Authors concluded: “The results of the present analysis suggest that (cannabis use) in patients with SZ (schizophrenia) is associated with better performance on measures of processing speed and verbal skills. These data are consistent with prior reports indicating that SZ patients with a history of CUD (cannabis use disorders) have less severe cognitive deficits than SZ patients without comorbid CUD. … The present findings also suggest that CUD in patients with SZ may not differentially affect the severity of illness as measured by clinical symptomatology.”

    Both study’s findings are in line with previous (though virtually unreported) research indicating that marijuana is unlikely to instigate incidences of schizophrenia in the general population, that cannabis use among patients with the disease is associated with higher cognitive function, and that at least some schizophrenics find subjective relief from symptoms of the illness by using pot. Nonetheless, odds are the nobody from the mainstream media will be champing at the bit to report on them.

    Bottom line: marijuana’s complex relationship with schizophrenia is far from understood, and likely won’t be for some time. But that doesn’t give the MSM a free pass to only promote one side of the story.

    110 responses to “Latest Research On Pot and Schizophrenia Runs Contrary to Mainstream Media Hype”

    1. Grandma420 says:

      Its all about the media and what they think they want us to hear. 🙁

    2. Theo says:

      You are wrong when you said: “But that doesn’t give the MSM a free pass to only promote one side of the story.” MSM does have a free pass. MSM does not care. They risk nothing by lying. They risk profits by telling the truth: their stock in munitions, construction & pharmaceuticals companies would devalue.

    3. M.G says:

      I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder 2 years ago and also only find relief from smoked marijuana. i had tried smoking pot in the past as a social thing in late teens and then quit for a few years. After learning my diagnoses i had gone through 3 doctors and countless medication cocktails that literally cause even more problems to surface. A friend of mine offered to smoke with me and relief from my hallucinations and anxiety was nearly instantaneous. i was able to think, able to process life for what it is, rather than be lost between reality and hallucination.

      The audacity of the MSM to use SZ as yet another tool in the anti-marijuana law reform kit is beyond me.

    4. Mase says:

      After reading this article I became curious about the definition of “cannabis use disorder”. I’ve tried to look it up but all I’ve been able to come across is studies done in the treatment of it (oddly enough).

      Does anybody have a link showing the medical definition of “cannabis use disorder”?

      I was able to find a small piece in a WebMD article talking about the reclassifications of “substance abuse,” but thats all.

    5. […] 420 MAGAZINE Source: NORML Author: Paul Armentano Contact: NORML Copyright: 2010 NORML Website: Latest Research On Pot and Schizophrenia Runs Contrary to Mainstream Media Hype __________________ 420 Magazine News Team Creating Cannabis Awareness Since 1993 […]

    6. Rick says:

      Yes folks, if you smoke cannabis the government has a legal stance of classification for pot smokers, in short it reads that it’s a disorder mentally but how many other issues are wrong with government, law, etc. The pot laws are put in place to keep you in a closet for as long as your a user. Government knows it’s wrong, their just keeping you down, control is what it’s all about and NOT being right, honest or correct. Now smoke your herb in the closet and be happy. Colorado’s citizens voted leaders into to office and now you can’t get busted in Colorado unless your really super stupid. The Tennessee Activist is baaaack!

    7. I’ve known a lot of Schitzos . Gentle , passive , couteous , polite but a few shots of whiskey ( or other liquor )and they turn into aggressive , combative , obnoxious , mean fighting bastards .

      Of course Alcoholic beverages are legal so we’ll concentrate on Cannabis consumers .

    8. mntnman444 says:

      “cannabis use disorder”?????
      Is that anything like Nancy Reagan’s claim that any use is abuse just because it is illegal?

    9. […] community then i think i will see a doctor about a prescription for help with my symptoms.. http://blog.norml.org/2010/05/26/lat…am-media-hype/ Latest Research On Pot and Schizophrenia Runs Contrary to Mainstream Media Hype May 26th, 2010 […]

    10. Rick says:

      I think this is a Republican ploy (they’re sore loosers) especially when marijuana is slowly becomming re-legalized.
      Let’s stop them in their tracks …NOW.

      NOW is the time to re-double our efforts, before public opinion sways.

      To all of us who use pot for our reasons, especilly the baby boomers who proved to us that smoking won’t turn us crazy.

      My belief and hope is that those who used pot in the past for recreational/medicinal use-will continue to promte it.

      Kinda remember we’re all getting older and when I turn 60 years old, I’d rather have a joint (for joint pain ?) than morphine. Obama’s administratin won’t prosecute for marijuana. Let’s get this mommentum going before it’s get’s too late….Thanks for letting me vent a little. RSK

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