Does medical marijuana produce lasting schizophrenia,
psychosis, or other mental disorders?
Mitchell Earleywine, Ph.D. and Thomas Denson state in their study “Decreased Depression in Marijuana Users,” in press as of 3/3/06 in the journal Addictive Behaviors:
“[T]hose who used [marijuana] once per week or less had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users. Daily users reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users….
Separate analyses for medical vs. recreational users demonstrated that medical users reported more depressed mood and more somatic complaints than recreational users, suggesting that medical conditions clearly contribute to depression scores and should be considered in studies of marijuana and depression.
These data suggest that adults apparently do not increase their risk for depression by using marijuana.”
(12/05) Mitch Earleywine Thomas Denson
Psychiatric Research reported in a March 30, 2005 article (Vol. 134, Issue 1, pages 37-42):
“Findings suggest that regular cannabis users are significantly more prone to cognitive and perceptual distortions as well as disorganization, but not interpersonal deficits, than non-regular users and those who have never used.
Additionally, the onset of schizotypal symptoms generally precedes the onset of cannabis use. The findings do not support a causal link between cannabis use and schizotypal traits.”
(3/30/05) Psychiatric Research
The 1999 U.S. sponsored IOM Report stated on Page 84:
“Although euphoria is the more common reaction to smoking marijuana, adverse mood reactions can occur. Such reactions occur most frequently in inexperienced users after large doses of smoked or oral marijuana. They usually disappear within hours and respond well to reassurance and a supportive environment.
Anxiety and paranoia are the most common acute adverse reactions; others include panic, depression, dysphoria, depersonalization, delusions, illusions, and hallucinations. Of regular marijuana smokers, 17% report that they have experienced at least one of the symptoms, usually early in their use of marijuana. Those observations are particularly relevant for the use of medical marijuana in people who have not previously used marijuana.”
(March 1999) IOM
The British Journal of Psychiatry published an August 1993 article “Psychiatric Symptoms in Cannabis Users” by H. Thomas that stated:
“Cannabis use can lead to a range of short-lived symptoms such as de-personalisation, de-realisation, a feeling of loss of control, fear of dying, irrational panic and paranoid ideas…
The evidence that cannabis has a causative role in chronic psychotic or affective disorders is not convincing, although the drug may modify the course of an already established illness.”
(August 1993) British Journal of Psychiatry
Oakley Ray, Ph.D. and Charles Ksir, Ph.D., wrote in their textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior (NY: McGraw-Hill, 10th Edition, 2004):
“There have been reports of psychotic ‘breakdowns’ occuring with rare frequency after marijuana has been smoked, but the causal relationship is in question.
The psychotic episodes are generally self-limiting and seem to occur in individuals with a history of psychiatric problems.”
2004 Oakley Ray Charles Ksir
Colin Blakemore, Ph.D., Chair of the Dept. of Physiology at the University of Oxford in Great Britain, wrote to ProCon.org on 12/27/02:
“It is conceivable that excessive use of cannabis sometimes contributes to acute schizophrenic episodes. But it is difficult to believe that cannabis is a strong risk factor for this disorder, because there is no evidence that the incidence of schizophrenia has risen dramatically over the past 50 years, in parallel with the huge increase in cannabis use.
Young schizophrenic patients are often heavy cigarette smokers too, but no-one would suggest that tobacco causes schizophrenia.”
(12/27/02) Colin Blakemore
Bill Zimmerman, Ph.D. wrote in her 1998 book Is Marijuana The Right Medicine For You? (CT: Keats Publishing), pages 166-167:
“Some opponents [of medical marijuana] …. claim that marijuana can cause serious mental disorders, like schizophrenia.
There is no evidence to support this claim.”
(1998) Bill Zimmerman
Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D., noted in her 1997 book Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts , page 83:
“Given that the incidence of schizophrenia declined substantially in Western societies in the 1970s, at the same time cannabis use was rising, it seems highly unlikely that marijuana causes schizophrenia in otherwise healthy people….
Cannabis psychosis is self-limiting, disappearing in a few days with or without medical treatment. Toxic psychosis probably occurs more commonly in individuals with preexisting psychiatric disorders….
Marijuana temporarily alters mood, thought, emotions, and perception, sometimes quite dramatically. None of marijuana’s effects cause people to behave in any particular manner.
In the midst of a toxic psychosis, people may become agitated and frightened. In response to acute panic, people may become withdrawn and inactive.
Neither of these states eliminates the social and moral restraints that guide human behavior.”
(1997) Lynn Zimmer
Is medical marijuana an effective treatment for depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety, and similar mood disorders?
Frank Lucido, M.D. states in his article “Implementation of the Compassionate Use Act in a Family Medical Practice: Seven Years Clinical Experience,” available on his website as of 6/2/06:
“With appropriate use of medical cannabis, many of these patients have been able to reduce or eliminate the use of opiates and other pain pills, ritalin, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants and other psychiatric medicines…”
(6/2/06) Frank Lucido
Lester Grinspoon, M.D. states in his 1997 book Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine:
“Thirty to 40 percent of patients with bipolar disorder are not consistently helped by conventional treatment. For some of them cannabis may be useful in ameliorating the symptoms, reducing side effects of lithium, or both.”
(1997) Lester Grinspoon
George McMahon, a patient receiving marijuana from the U.S. government as part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Investigational New Drug (IND) Program, states in his 2003 book Prescription Pot:
“People who have never struggled with a life threatening or disabling illness often do not comprehend how debilitating the resulting depression can be. Long days spent struggling with sickness can wear patients down, suppress their appetites and slowly destroy their wills to live. This psychological damage can result in physiological effects that may be the difference between living and dying.
The elevated mood associated with cannabis definitely affected my health in a positive manner. I was more engaged with life. I took walks and rode my bike, things I never considered doing before in my depressed state, even if I had been physically capable. I ate regular meals and I slept better at night. All of these individual factors contributed to a better overall sense of well-being.”
2003 George McMahon
Tod Mikuriya, M.D. writes in the 1997 book Marijuana Medical Handbook (Oakland: Quick American Archives):
“The power of cannabis to fight depression is perhaps its most important property.”
(1997) Tod Mikuriya
The Journal of Clinical Investigation states in the 10/13/05 article “Cannabinoids Promote Embryonic and Adult Hippocampus Neurogenesis and Produce Anxiolytic- and Antidepressant-like Effects” (Article in PDF format) by Xia Zhang et al.:
“We show that 1 month after chronic HU210 [high-potency cannabinoid] treatment, rats display increased newborn neurons [brain cell growth] in the hippocampal dentate gyrus [a portion of the brain] and significantly reduced measures of anxiety- and depression-like behavior.
Thus, cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects.”
10/05 Journal of Clinical Investigation
The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS), states in a January 2004 article on a study designed by Prentiss, Power, Balmas, Tzuang and Israelski “to examine the prevalence and patterns of smoked marijuana and perceived benefit” among 252 HIV patients, found:
“Overall prevalence of smoked marijuana in the previous month was 23%. Reported benefits included relief of anxiety and/or depression (57%), improved appetite (53%), increased pleasure (33%), and relief of pain (28%).
(01/04) Journal AIDS
Jay Cavanaugh Ph.D. writes in his 2003 article “Cannabis and Depression,” which was published on the website of the American Alliance For Medical Cannabis:
“Numerous patients report significant improvement and stabilization with their bipolar disorder when they utilize adjunctive therapy with medical cannabis. While some mental health professionals worry about the impact of cannabis on aggravating manic states, most bipolar patients trying cannabis find they ‘cycle’ less often and find significant improvement in overall mood. Bipolar disorders vary tremendously in the time spent in the depressive versus manic states. Those who experience extended depressive episodes are more likely to be helped with cannabis.
Patients who use cannabis to ‘relax’ may be treating the anxiousness sometimes associated with depression. Cannabis aids the insomnia sometimes present in depression and can improve appetite. Better pain control with cannabis can reduce chronic pain related depression. While cannabis cannot yet be considered a primary treatment of major depression it may improve mood when used under physicians supervision and in combination with therapy and/or SSRI’s.”
(2003) Jay Cavanaugh
Bill Zimmerman Ph.D. states in his 1998 book Is Marijuana the Right Medicine For You?:
“Some patients have found the mood altering effects of marijuana to be helpful for treating mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar (manic-depressive) illness. Using marijuana to treat mood disorders was described in medical writings in the 19th and early 20th centuries…
However, using marijuana to treat mood disorders can be very tricky… If you intend to use marijuana for this purpose, it is very important that you thoroughly discuss it with your doctor. Patients who respond well report that marijuana not only diminishes their undesirable moods, it also motivates them to productivity. For some of these patients, depression was a by-product of a debilitating disease or illness for which marijuana provided a welcome remedy. For others, the marijuana seems to have acted directly on the depression.
The mental component of the pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) often causes psychological problems and is now technically classified as an atypical (not typical) depression. Many women report benefit from using marijuana to improve the symptoms of PMS.”
(1998) Bill Zimmerman
Does marijuana cause depression or other mood disorders?
Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., noted in an 11/17/05 press release :
“Not only does marijuana not cause depression, it looks like it may actually alleviate it…
Those who use marijuana to battle the symptoms of illness may be depressed because of their illness, not because of marijuana. Studies that do not identify medical use might falsely implicate marijuana, rather than sickness, as the cause of depressed feelings…
Thirty percent to 40% of patients with bipolar disorder are not consistently helped by or cannot tolerate standard medications. In the course of the authors’ studies of the medical uses of cannabis (Grinspoon & Bakalar 1997), a number of sufferers were discovered who believed marihuana to be more effective than conventional anti-manic drugs, or who used it to relieve the side effects of lithium.”
(11/17/05) Mitch Earleywine
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs noted in an April 1998 article by Psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon, M.D. (Volume 30 (2), pp. 171-177):
“Thirty percent to 40% of patients with bipolar disorder are not consistently helped by or cannot tolerate standard medications. In the course of the authors’ studies of the medical uses of cannabis (Grinspoon & Bakalar 1997), a number of sufferers were discovered who believed marihuana to be more effective than conventional anti-manic drugs, or who used it to relieve the side effects of lithium.”
(4/98) Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
Ethan Russo, M.D., wrote in the December 2002 issue of Cannabis Health (Vol. 1, No. 1, Page 12):
“A surprising number of people so afflicted [with bi-polar disorder] have independently made the discovery that cannabis has improved their conditions, whether the mania or depression. It may also reduce side effects of other drugs used in its treatment, such as Lithium, Carbamazepine (Tegretol) or Valproate (Depakote).
No doubt, cannabis is affecting the balance of neurotransmitters that are at the basis for this disorder.
Endocannabinoids seem to be intimately involved in emotional regulation mechanisms in the limbic system. Because THC and other chemicals in cannabis mimic our own internal biochemistry, they may help replace what is missing.”
(12/02) Ethan Russo
Bill Zimmerman, Ph.D., wrote in his 1998 book Is Marijuana The Right Medicine For You? A Factual Guide to Medical Uses of Marijuana on page 139:
“Using marijuana to treat mood disorders can be very tricky. Since active mood disorders often warp one’s observational skills, reports by patients about marijuana lifting them out of depression are inherently unreliable.
If you intend to use marijuana for this purpose, it is very important that you thoroughly discuss it with your doctor. Patients who respond well report that marijuana not only diminishes their undesirable moods, it also motivates them to productivity.
For some of these patients, depression was a by-product of a debilitating disease or illness for which marijuana provided a welcome remedy. For others, the marijuana seems to have acted directly on the depression.”
(1998) Bill Zimmerman
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