I’m sure you’ve heard of the link between psychosis and marijuana. It’s been observed by psychologists for some time but has recently made headlines after the drug began to be legalized in certain parts of the United States. In order to understand the gravity of this connection, however, one first has to understand what psychosis really is.

Psychosis is a fairly uncommon condition affecting only around three percent of the U.S. population. It is a mental illness in which a person’s perception of reality becomes distorted, often with unpleasant consequences. Symptoms of psychosis include: delusions, hallucinations, feelings of paranoia, suspiciousness, disorganized thinking and speaking, and even difficulties expressing emotion or concentrating.

According to a video by the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, marijuana has been found to trigger and even worsen psychosis in young people who are already vulnerable to the condition. For example, of the three percent of the population who will experience a psychotic episode, most will have their first during adolescence. This likelihood is increased four-fold if you smoke weed. What’s most unfortunate is that it’s often hard to distinguish whether you are simply experiencing a “bad high” or if your symptoms are reflective of a psychotic episode.

The risk of psychosis is only one of the many reasons why even in the case of legalization marijuana will continue to be prohibited for use by adolescents. The true roots of the cannabis and psychosis link are not completely understood. Some feel that individuals may be influenced to use cannabis because of their already existing predisposition to mental illness. Others argue that the drug precipitates these conditions in individuals with genetic vulnerability. Regardless of why, the link between psychosis and marijuana is well documented and young adults are advised to understand these risks if they do choose to use the drug.

Schizophrenia Society of Canada // Cannabis & Psychosis from Giant Ant on Vimeo.