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

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 29, 2012

    [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 responses to “Study: Cannabis Use Associated With Lower Mortality Risk In Patients With Psychotic Disorders”

    1. Gregory says:

      That’s basically why I do it, and yes I am a ps.

    2. Reese says:

      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.

    3. Dave Evans says:

      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.

    4. RLS says:

      ^ 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. 🙂

    5. robert mcfarland says:

      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.

    6. robert mcfarland says:

      of course one good comment is destroyed by the all knowing auto correct

    7. St. Nick says:

      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…

    8. Dave Evans says:

      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.

      • Mansuit says:

        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!

    9. stilllockedoutoftheshed says:

      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 !!

    10. Lazarus Cain says:

      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.