Cannabis and mental health

  • Cannabis and mental health

Medical cannabis is supported by a large number of people. Yet there is still fear of cannabis among us, including the curative, that it can be harmful. Mention that it causes mental health disorders, such as psychosis or schizophrenia, is mainly found in popular media.

In the United Kingdom, medical cannabis is supported by both the public and politicians. They are designed to be accessible to patients who may benefit. In 2016, Populus survey found that 68% of the UK population supported this proposal. Last year there was a change in the law on the legalization of medical cannabis in England, which met with great enthusiasm and praise.

Cannabis and mental health

Many health care professionals are still in the dark about safety. These concerns also led to the momentary reluctance of NHS physicians to prescribe newly legalized substances. Many patients “take” therapeutic cannabis to treat a wide range of health problems, including alleviating mental symptoms. We are thus in a paradoxical position where some use cannabis to improve mental health, while others see it as a trigger for all these disorders, not as a cure.

Media prejudices

Many media slices or platforms are used to shout out messages such as, "Eating cannabis can lead to psychosis and even schizophrenia." Or "Cannabis to mental problems!".

Because of these reports, there are strong opinions which are neither helpful to the public nor to doctors.

The reality can only be seen through evidence of full research and experimentation with cannabis. For example, a new record on the efficacy of CBD, the infamous cannabinoid, and its assistance in persons with schizophrenia. The experiment, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, dealt with a 6-week CBD treatment in a group of people who had reduced psychotic symptoms during treatment.

Limited evidence

Available evidence is currently very limited, yet it opens the door to further research on the effectiveness of treatment for a wide range of health problems (physical and mental).

The claims that cannabis contributes to the build-up of schizophrenia or psychosis are rather empty phrases, as the subject is being repeatedly apologized. In order to get rid of the established beliefs, we must put everything in the hands of serious scientists and start discussions based on available records that support its effectiveness and functionality.

Genetics plays a role

Although there is a link between cannabis and psychosis, it only affects people who are continuous users of high THC or who are inherited to develop psychosis. One recent study confirms that genetics plays a 69% to 84% role in this case.

Self-report questionnaires have found that 19% of adult cannabis users use it every day or every other day to be at greatest risk and are at high risk of developing these disorders. Other important points affecting these problems include frequency of THC use and age.

The available results suggest that most cannabis users have not experienced psychosis or developed schizophrenia. So they don't put themselves in danger.


In all psychosis and cannabis stories, the importance of both social and structural factors, which play a major role in public health, is crazy. In these conversations, these factors were not taken into account. These include poverty, childhood trauma and abuse. Many of them cause stress, a well-known creator of psychosis.

Failure to explore all possible ways to improve the quality of life will be a disaster for all potential patients and a huge failure for doctors, citizens and politicians.

Authors: Dr. Caroline MacCallum (Clinical Instructor at UBC, Medical Director at Greenleaf Medical Clinic)
                    Dr. Jenna Valleriani (CEO of National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education, Executive Director of Hope for Health Canada)

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Photo Source: (by Serena Wong, Wokandapix)