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Marijuana Effects on Mental Health




The use of marijuana, also known as weed, in high doses, daily or almost daily, can cause unpleasant thoughts, disorientation, paranoia, and/or anxiety. People that use weed have a higher chance of developing temporary psychosis. Temporary psychosis can consist of paranoia, hallucinations, and not knowing what is real. Some people also develop long-term mental health disorders such as Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness where someone sees or hears things that others do not see. The link between schizophrenia and marijuana can be stronger in people that begin using it early in life and use it often. Weed has been linked to social anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide itself.

Different Marijuana Studies and Factor

There have been several studies conducted that proved marijuana use has led to a heightened chance for mental health disorders and other types of substance abuse. The ability to determine how much of a role marijuana actually play in these conditions is hard to determine.

Recent studies have shown that using highly potent weed daily can increase the risk of evolving psychosis by almost five times compared to others who do not use it. Other variables that affect the relationship between weed and psychosis are how much is used, age, and genetic vulnerability. The stronger evidence concerning the link to marijuana and mental health disorders are those with vulnerabilities such as preexisting genetics.

The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions showed longitudinal data and was used in research examining links between weed use, substance abuse disorders, and anxiety and mood disorders. After making changes for different factors, there was no link between marijuana use and anxiety and/or mood disorders discovered in that study. The single big associations were heightened chance of alcoholism, nicotine addiction, marijuana use disorder, and other substance use disorders.


Courtesy of Elsa Olofsson (Flickr CCO)

Brain Chemicals and Other Factors

Recent studies have discovered that those who use weed and carry a certain type of the AKT1 gene, which influences dopamine communication in the striatum, are in high danger of dealing with psychosis. The striatum is a part of the brain that gets activated and filled with the chemical dopamine when specific stimulants are available. A study discovered that the chance of psychosis in those with the AKT1 gene was seven times greater for the ones who have used weed daily in comparison to those who have not used it often or not at all.

A different study discovered a higher chance of psychosis in adults who had been using marijuana in their teenage years and carry a certain type of gene for catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT). This gene is an enzyme that brings down neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine.

Assumptions and Different Study Answers

Weed use has been known to worsen the path of illness in those who had preexisting schizophrenia. As stated previously, weed, especially in high amounts, can create a temporary psychotic episode in people who do not have schizophrenia. The episode fades away when the weed wears off.

Humble and conflicting links have been expressed between suicidal ideation and attempts and weed in teenagers. Weed has been linked with a motivational condition, defined as a small or nonexistent motivation to participate in normal rewarding events. Due to the part that is taken by the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of reward and mood. It has been assumed that changes in the brain that are a result of using marijuana early on may be the underlying cause of the links. However, more studies are needed to confirm that such associations are real and to understand them better.

Written by Marrissa Kay
Edited by Jeanette Vietti


National Institute on Drug Abuse: Is there a link between marijuana use and psychiatric disorders?
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Marijuana and Public Health
Alcohol and Drug Foundation: Does cannabis cause mental health issues?

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Momento Mori’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Courtesy of Elsa Olofsson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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