Amongst the stories of spreading global terror, corruption in almost every government going and the general dangers which sit outside your front door, a multitude of voices are echoing the same statement like a skipping CD and it feels like the batteries have gone in the remote control.
One perception of the effects of cannabis seems to be gaining more press than any other these days and it shows no signs of going away, so let’s confront this head on:
DOES SMOKING CANNABIS CAUSE PSYCHOSIS?
Psychosis is referred to as a ‘mental health problem that causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them’ and this in itself makes the supposed link easier to propose as it is so vague in its definition. It is estimated that 1% of people will experience a psychotic episode in their lifetime and these can be utterly terrifying as the person affected will have little-to-no awareness that what they perceive is not reality.
Although many people believe that psychosis is a condition within itself, it is actually a combination of various symptoms and conditions which combine to aggravate an individual’s mental abilities and render
them unstable in the eyes of those around them. Whether it takes the forms of paranoia, hallucinations, illusions of grandeur or bipolar disorder, mental illness is something which impacts on most people’s lives at some stage and there is absolutely no question that we all need to be more aware of how people are affected so that we can offer them all the support they need during the darkest days.
Statistics highlight a frightening level of mental health issues in younger people and despite the fact that our modern World has evolved at such a rapid rate that none of us are fully prepared to deal with its
complexities the finger of blame is firmly pointed towards one culprit. No prizes for guessing what its name is.
Recently this has been causing waves courtesy of a six-year study which has just been published. Scientists have been investigating the link between psychosis, hash and high-potency Skunk in order to determine if the higher levels of THC in the ever-evolving ‘Street-Skunk’ plays a significant role in a growing number of psychotic episodes which are diagnosed in the UK every year. Before we even begin to look into this any deeper it must be stated that the scientists warn that they ‘cannot be sure that their results aren’t causal’ – so they basically admit that they haven’t actually proved anything other than a proportion of people who have suffered these issues smoke cannabis.
I’m not trying to undermine their work, I’m just being truthful. I’m all for research and education but you can use statistics to prove anything. 87% of people know that.
Despite the length of study and the hope that it would shed some light on why the UK is seeing a continued increase in diagnosed cases of psychosis, the study itself took the form of a questionnaire which was completed by willing patients who had been admitted due to mental issues. Each individual was asked series of questions regarding their use of cannabis which sought to discover the type of cannabis smoked (hash/ Skunk), the amount usually consumed and the regularity of consumption (occasional/weekly/daily). Analysis of the data suggests that people who smoke Skunk on a daily basis account for a greater proportion of individuals than those who occasionally smoke hash, but this occurred in roughly a quarter (24%) of those who took part in the survey.
In reality this means that 76% of people who suffered from psychosis either never smoked Skunk (or any form of cannabis) or smoked it relatively infrequently. At this time it is unclear what other findings they made from the data but it would be interesting to see what proportion of individuals also drank heavily or used other illicit substances regularly. I would confidently predict that a far greater proportion of the subject group would have suffered psychotic episodes as a result of prolonged alcoholism, drug abuse or countless other social, emotional or personal issues. But that’s not what they wanted to prove, was it?
What most avenues fail to report, since it simply isn’t worth informing us all fully, is that far more evidence is available which indicates clearly that CBD has a hugely positive impact when administered to
patients suffering from various elements of psychosis. Psychotic episodes, hallucinations and general feelings of paranoia and fear were much reduced following the introduction of CBD into the system. This is of no real surprise for anyone with experience of smoking CBD-rich strains as the ideology behind this is identical to the type of stone you feel dependant on the weed you consume: cerebral and energetic highs versus mellow chilled mind states.
Due to the endocannabinoid system’s influence on brain function and the multitude of pathways around our control center, it appears that CBD’s medicinal properties continue to astound the scientists of the world. So let’s get some more reports on these types of investigations, shall we?
I would wager that many of our readers are familiar with individuals who medicate mental conditions with medicinal marijuana, in fact I know of numerous sites which sell strains specifically targeted at treating depression and anxiety (two proven causes of conditions associated with psychosis).
When you suffer from any condition I believe you should have a legal right to obtain any form of medicine which improves your standard of living; whether you live in a country where healthcare is a right or a
privilege you have to pay for, it is unfair to limit someone’s care due to bureaucracy, outdated ideals or biased research.
For the ill-informed this is simply another reason to hold tight to the reins of control instead of relinquishing their grip in the face of real change. Regulation, education and the freedom to grow your own medication is the only way forward. Whilst some parties have inferred that they may be willing to push forward with decriminalization, should they come into power later this year, the public perception of cannabis is not something which needs to discover more thorns in its side.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 117