Cannabis and Psychosis

Cannabis has been gaining a lot of publicity which means more research is being done about this intriguing plant and it’s proving pretty interesting. Recent studies have shown that there is actually a link between cannabis and psychosis. The studies show that the daily use of cannabis (especially high potent strains) is linked to developing psychosis.

What is psychosis?
Psychosis is a mental disorder in which a person may interpret reality in a very different way. It can sometimes be said that they are ‘losing touch with reality’. Hallucinations can make you hear voices or see things that others can’t. Delusions can make you paranoid about people watching you or thinking that you’re being chased by someone. Some causes of psychosis are:
– Physical injury
– Lack of sleep
– Abuse/trauma
– Other mental illness’s (depression for example)
– Family inheritance
– Drugs

Drugs can have a huge impact on our mental health. A European study which looked at the use of cannabis in 11 major cities was conducted not that long ago. The link between psychosis was strongest in London and Amsterdam which is where the high potency strains are most common. These strains contain 10% more THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) and are easily available. In London 1/3 of new cases were linked with high potency use. In Amsterdam half of all new cases of psychosis was linked with high potency strains. The study started in 2010 and finished in 2015. It looked at 901 different individuals with first episode psychosis and used the mental health services across Europe. Researchers collected information about the individuals history of cannabis and other recreational drugs. They used published data to estimate the THC levels in the cannabis the participants used. Strains that has over 10% THC were classed as high potency and those strains that had less than 10% THC were classed as low potency. Compared to those who had never used cannabis, the participants who smoked any type of cannabis on a daily basis were three times more likely to have a diagnosis of first episode of psychosis. This increased to five times more likely with those that smoked high potency strains daily. It was estimated that 1 in 5 new cases of psychosis (within the time frame of the study) was linked to cannabis and 1 in 10 were linked to the use of high potency strains.
In London stunk cannabis or similar (basically cannabis with a really strong scent) represents 94% of the street market and has an average of 14% THC.
CBD however does not have any psycho-active components and it has been shown to reduce the amount of psychoactive components in THC. You can read more about the study here.

Who is at risk?
Those at a higher risk are adolescents and young adults where the brain is still growing. Those who have experienced childhood trauma are shown to be at even more risk. It has also been know that those with a certain gene variant seem to be at higher risk but there is very little known about this and not a certain link.
Cannabis can also be enhanced for sales purposes. Cannabis can get laced with other drugs (such as cocaine) or sprayed with chemicals to change the appearance and weight of the product in as this could result in more money for the drug dealer.

You can’t argue with facts. Facts are facts and it has shown that there is a link between cannabis and psychosis so how can we change this? How can we make weed safer and increase peoples knowledge? I’ll admit that I am partly saying this because I would like it to happen but in my opinion legalising cannabis could help. If cannabis was legal there would be less people going to drug dealers (which could also results in less crime) who might sell weed to underage people and from several unknown sources plus it could also illegally be enhanced. Legalisation could result in more people going to dispensaries where experienced and knowledgeable staff work. The laws and all health and safety regulations would have to be met and obviously no underage people will be able to purchase cannabis. The different strains could be displayed with the name and THC/CBD levels. Maybe have less high potency strains and more low potency strains. Strains with high THC could come with a warning sign, a informative booklet on the short/long term effects and minimum age of consumption (maybe 25 or older). There would be more indicas (high CBD levels) and hybrids (mixture of CBD and THC) available. The staff can go through the appearance, smell, how to use it, what you may feel/think, any warnings or recommendations. You could even give it a try in the shop first if you would like. You could also buy cannabis apps/diaries to help you monitor what you are smoking, when and how often. New jobs would open up for the unemployed. Maybe even some university courses or evening school courses to improve peoples knowledge. For me the possibilities are endless and this is purely just my opinion. Even if cannabis was to be legalised there is no guarantee it will all be plain sailing.

If you do consume cannabis make sure you know what you’re smoking and where it comes from. If you are worried about possible psychosis speak to your doctor! Don’t ignore it.

Wishing you all the best,

Emma xo