It’s long been thought that marijuana can trigger psychotic symptoms, but a new study indicates it doesn't trigger them as much as scientists previously thought. Published in the journal Addiction, the new piece of research also says that weed can definitely make schizophrenic symptoms worse in people who have the disorder.
According to a statement, a previous study by the University of Bristol showed that more than 20,000 people would have to give up weed just to stop one case of psychosis. This indicates that psychosis from cannabis use is rare.
"High-potency cannabis contains less of a chemical that is believed to protect against negative side-effects, such as psychosis, and a higher level of a chemical that can trigger psychosis,” Ian Hamilton, lecturer in mental health at the University of York and study co-author said in a statement. In this new study, we looked at both low and high potency, but it is clear that we need more evidence from high potency-related health cases to further investigate this link in modern-day users."
The research did show, however, that the more someone used highly potent marijuana, the greater chance they had of developing mental health problems, although the risk is low.
Scientists have long debated whether marijuana can actually cause mental health issues. Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute for Drug Abuse at the National Institutes for Health, spoke with NPR about the issue in 2015. She told the media outlet that marijuana can definitely cause psychotic symptoms in users. "But can cannabis by itself trigger the schizophrenic disease? That's not so clear," she told the outlet.
The organization reported that several studies linked marijuana use to schizophrenia but Volkow explained in the article that maybe it’s because schizophrenics choose to smoke pot as a way to escape.
"People who have an emerging schizophrenic disorder may be consuming marijuana," she explained to NPR, "trying to self-medicate because they just don't feel right."
Other studies have shown that marijuana can actually help your mental health, minimizing the symptoms from PTSD, depression and anxiety. Like any drug, pot has side effects and there is still much more research needed to determine its impact on mental health.