Association with cannabis and psychosis confirmed

Association with cannabis and psychosis confirmed

Arturo C. Taca, Jr. MD.

In a recent study, data showed more evidence that marijuana can cause psychotic symptoms. It has been widely recognized that some persons that smoke cannabis are at higher risk of psychotic symptoms such as paranoid thoughts, auditory hallucinations, and delusions. These symptoms mimic symptoms closely related to schizophrenia.

Since the THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) amount has increased from 3-5% from the 60’s to 30% in genetically engineered plants, more psychotic behavior has been reported.

The researchers in this latest study concluded that “age at onset of cannabis is directly associated with age at onset of psychosis and age at first hospitalization.” This means the earlier one smokes marijuana, the earlier the onset of psychotic symptoms

Lead researcher stated, “if cannabis use precipitates the onset of psychosis, efforts should be focused on designing interventions to discourage cannabis use in vulnerable individuals,” Dr. Juan A. Galvez-Buccollini and his associates wrote (Schizophrenia Res. 2012;139:157-60).

An example of a vulnerable person is someone with a first-degree relative with psychosis, “the highest risk factor for schizophrenia,” said Dr. Lynn E. Delisi, senior investigator for the study, a psychiatrist at the Boston VA Medical Center in Brockton, Mass., and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston.

This study is among several recent papers suggesting an association with cannabis smoking, psychosis, and the risk of triggering schizophrenic episodes in populations having genetic risk for psychotic illnesses.