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. Shane Pinnell says:

      I was diagnosed with a lot of incorrect diagnoses since I was 15. A dr finally diagnosed my illness as schizoeffective/bipolar. I smoke weed only on occasions of severe stress and it relieves my symptoms to the point that I don’t hallucinate or stay paranoid. My use is not excessive but it does help when it’s needed. When I was 15 and having all the symptoms is severe amounts, weed was the only thing that kept the voices from scaring me to the point of suicide.

    2. Elle says:

      I FREAKING KNEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been saying this for YEARS!!!! No one believed me, but I knew an official study would eventually be conducted that would prove my theory right!!! HA!

    3. john says:

      cannbis use DISORDER??? so now smoking pot is being labeled a disease? geniuses.

    4. Nic says:

      re: insanity

      I submit The War On Drugs

    5. A.A.M. says:

      Even though this is a new study, this is old news for those who know the difference between science and media B.S. (which is everyone reading this comment) Slowly but surely marijuana is more in the public eye not as a ‘demon weed’ but as just another way to relax after a day of work (or class in my case). I believe the more reports that come out revealing the FACTS about cannabis, the more people will come around to realizing that if there was an obvious link between schizophrenia and marijuana use, there would be a lot more people with said affliction walking around.

    6. John says:

      Here are a few more studies in our favor! Now where is the mainstream media?

      If they cannot improve ratings or make money off of it, they are no where to be found!

    7. Mike Stroup says:

      Prohibitionists do not want to be confused with the facts; they’ve allready got their minds made up. Besides, they’ve got ready access to their drug of choice: rot gut ,booze, fire water, or whatever else you want to call that liver destroying, “wet brain” addictive, deadly toxin. Prohibitionists’ hypocrisy alone renders their position untenable.

    8. Billie says:

      Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for well over 5,000 years. Don’t you think there would have been a tie to cannabis and SZ a while before now even with the advanced science of today? Every herb used for medicinal purposes have been experimented with for thousands of years and when enough people died or got some disease they knew what was up… same goes for marijuana… in my eyes anyway.

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    10. christine says:

      The Mainstream Media needs to be smarter on how they forcast the news. In Houston, we here propaganda at all ends.

      Just the other day, our local ABC news anchor, Jessica Willey said “there was a new study out” (done in 2007) about cannabis causing lung cancer. The study was done by the New Zealand Institute. It clearly states in the study online, cannabis does not cause empazema. During the newscast, she interviewed a Dr. and he said that it does cause emphaszea and lung cancer. I know she had to do the research and she knew the answer but failed to correct him. It’s the media who is controlling alot of the controversy