Marijuana Use Directly Increases Risk For Psychosis In Teens

Written by Jim Folk
Written by Jim Folk
Written by Jim Folk
Last updated June 23, 2021
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Marijuana Use Directly Increases Risk For Psychosis In Teens

A recent large prospective study[1] has found adolescents who use cannabis expose themselves to a harmful psychosis risk, says study author Patricia J. Conrod, PhD, professor of psychiatry, University of Montreal, Canada.

This research means all young marijuana users face this risk regardless if there is a family history of schizophrenia or other biological factor that increases susceptibility to the effects of cannabis.

“The whole population is prone to have this risk,” said Conrod to Medscape Medical News.[2]

With many jurisdictions adopting more liberal marijuana policies, or are about to, such as Canada in July 2018, it’s important to understand the risks associated with marijuana use. Up until recently, research wasn’t clear on causality between psychosis and cannabis use in adolescents.

“One of the problems in trying to assess a causal relationship between cannabis and mental health outcomes is the chicken or egg issue. Is it that people who are prone to mental health problems are more attracted to cannabis, or is it something about the onset of cannabis use that influences the acceleration of psychosis symptoms?” Conrod said.

The research was setup to test the causal predominance between these two outcomes.

Medscape reported that the study, which included 3720 teens, found:

“The study revealed statistically significant positive cross-lagged associations, at every time point, from cannabis use to psychosis symptoms reported 12 months later, over and above the random intercepts of cannabis use and psychosis symptoms (between-person differences). The statistical significances varied from P < .001 to P < .05.

“Cannabis use, in any given year, predicted an increase in psychosis symptoms a year later, said Conrod.”

Because marijuana use is “very prevalent” in teens, Conrod said, this research is extremely important to not only raise awareness for governments to increase their efforts to employ evidence-based marijuana use prevention programs but also for governments to implement policies that will address the use of underaged marijuana use.

Conrod noted that reducing access to and demand for marijuana products among adolescents could help reduce the risk of developing major mental health problems in this age group.

The study was published online June 6 in JAMA Psychiatry.[1]

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1. Bourque, Josiane. “Association of Cannabis Use With Adolescent Psychotic Symptoms.” JAMA Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, 6 June 2018.2.