Marijuana has been a hot button issue in the U.S. for several years. So far 10 states have decriminalized it for recreational use and a growing list of others have approved it for medical treatment. The popularity of marijuana seems to be increasing at a fast rate and its use in so many products from food to makeup has given it an almost “healthfull” reputation. But a recent study done in Europe found that daily use of potent marijuana can cause psychosis leading to psychotic episodes and, in extreme cases, schizophrenia.
The popularity of daily recreational marijuana has had a direct effect on the strength of marijuana used. Potent marijuana is defined as containing at least 10% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes intoxication. One study in Europe found that the average THC concentration in herbal marijuana has increased from 5% to 10% from 2006-2016. In some U.S. states where marijuana has been legalized, the THC concentrations can be up to 30%.
The increase of THC in marijuana has also seen the decrease in cannabidiol (CBD) in the last ten years. CBD is a much less psychoactive than THC and is linked to the more beneficial elements of marijuana such as relief for pain and anxiety and depression. CBD is actually a potential antipsychotic, which would hypothetically balance out the potential psychotic effects of THC.
Psychosis is loosely defined as a break with reality. Symptoms of psychosis include:
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Feelings of paranoia and high anxiety
- Abrupt loss of train of thought
- A high mood (mania)- feelings of elation
- A low mood – feeling of sadness or depression
Daily Marijuana Use Linked to Psychosis
The research done by the European study tracked over 2,000 subjects who use marijuana regularly. Around half of that group reporting a first-time psychotic episode and 30% of those reported a psychotic break said they used marijuana daily. The group was further divided into 2 groups: low-potency group (less than 10% THC) and the high potency group (more than 10% THC).
The overall results found that daily marijuana use makes a person three times more likely to suffer a psychotic episode. The rate jumped to five times more likely when potent marijuana was used daily. Also, three European cities – London, Paris and Amsterdam – where high-potency marijuana is more commonly available, reported higher rates of new cases of psychosis than any other cities.
Marijuana has a growing reputation as a healthy option for a laundry list of symptoms. While it may contain beneficial elements, the increased amount of THC in recreational marijuana is having a negative effect on consumers. The European study has shown that the potential for psychosis increases dramatically with the use of high-potency marijuana, which can lead to much more serious and chronic conditions like schizophrenia.
Check out the following articles for further reading on the link between marijuana and psychosis: