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Why Do We Underplay the Links Between Cannabis and Psychosis?
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What is really needed in dealing with cannabis is a “tobacco moment”, as with cigarettes 50 years ago, when a majority of people became convinced that smoking might give them cancer and kill them. Since then the number of cigarette smokers in Britain has fallen by two-thirds.

A depressing aspect of the present debate about cannabis is that so many proponents of legalisation or decriminalisation have clearly not taken on board that the causal link between cannabis and psychosis has been scientifically proven over the past ten years, just as the connection between cancer and cigarettes was proved in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The proofs have emerged in a series of scientific studies that reach the same grim conclusion: taking cannabis significantly increases the risk of schizophrenia. One study in The Lancet Psychiatry concludes that “the risk of individuals having a psychotic disorder showed a roughly three times increase in users of skunk-like cannabis, compared with those who never used cannabis”.

As 94 per cent of cannabis seized by the police today is super-strength skunk, compared to 51 per cent in 2005, almost all those who take the drug today will be vulnerable to this three-fold increase in the likelihood that they will develop psychosis.

Mental health professionals have long had no doubts about the danger. Five years ago, I asked Sir Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, about them. He said that studies showed that “if the risk of schizophrenia for the general population is about one per cent, the evidence is that, if you take ordinary cannabis, it is two per cent; if you smoke regularly you might push it up to four per cent; and if you smoke ‘skunk’ every day you push it up to eight per cent”.

Anybody wondering what happens to this 8 per cent of the skunk-smoking population should visit any mental hospital in Britain or speak to somebody who has done so. Dr Humphrey Needham-Bennett, medical director and consultant psychiatrist of Cygnet Hospital, Godden Green in Sevenoaks, explained to me that among his patients “cannabis use is so common that I assume that people use or used it. It’s quite surprising when people say ‘no, I don’t use drugs’.”

The connection between schizophrenia and cannabis was long suspected by specialists but it retained its reputation as a relatively benign drug, its image softened by the afterglow of its association with cultural and sexual liberation in the 1960s and 1970s.

This ill-deserved reputation was so widespread that even 20 years ago, the possible toxic side effects of cannabis were barely considered. Zerrin Atakan, formerly head of the National Psychosis Unit at the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital and later a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, said: “I got interested in cannabis because I was working in the 1980s in an intensive care unit where my patients would be fine after we got them well. We would give them leave and they would celebrate their new found freedom with a joint and come back psychotic a few hours later.”

She did not find it easy to pursue her professional interest in the drug. She recalls: “I was astonished to discover that cannabis, which is the most widely used illicit substance, was hardly researched in the 1990s and there was no research on how it affected the brain.” She and fellow researchers made eight different applications for research grants and had them all turned down, so they were reduced to taking the almost unheard of course of pursuing their research without the support of a grant.

Studies by Dr Atakan and other psychiatrists all showed the connection between cannabis and schizophrenia, yet this is only slowly becoming conventional wisdom. Perhaps this should not be too surprising because in 1960, long after the link between cigarettes and lung cancer had been scientifically established, only a third of US doctors were persuaded that this was the case.

A difficulty is that people are frightened of mental illness and ignorant of its causes in a way that is no longer true of physical illnesses, such as cancer or even HIV. I have always found that three quarters of those I speak to at random about mental health know nothing about psychosis and its causes, and the other quarter know all too much about it because they have a relative or friend who has been affected.

Even those who do have experience of schizophrenia do not talk about it very much because they are frightened of a loved one being stigmatised. They may also be wary of mentioning the role of cannabis because they fear that somebody they love will be dismissed as a junkie who has brought their fate upon themselves.

This fear of being stigmatised affects institutions as well as individuals. Schools and universities are often happy to have a policy about everything from sex to climate change, but steer away from informing their students about the dangers of drugs. A social scientist specialising in drugs policy explained to me that the reason for this is because “they’re frightened that, if they do, everybody will think they have a drugs problem which, of course, they all do”.

The current debate about cannabis – sparked by the confiscation of the cannabis oil needed by Billy Caldwell to treat his epilepsy and by William Hague’s call for the legalisation of the drug – is missing the main point. It is all about the merits and failings of different degrees of prohibition of cannabis when it is obvious that legal restrictions alone will not stop the 2.1 million people who take cannabis from going on doing so. But the legalisation of cannabis legitimises it and sends a message that the government views it as relatively harmless. The very fact of illegality is a powerful disincentive for many potential consumers, regardless of the chances of being punished.


The legalisation of cannabis might take its production and sale out of the hands of criminal gangs, but it would put it into the hands of commercial companies who would want to make a profit, advertise their product and increase the number of their customers. Commercialisation of cannabis has as many dangers as criminalisation.

A new legal market in cannabis might be regulated and the toxicity of super-strength skunk reduced. But the argument of those who want to legalise cannabis is that the authorities are unable to enforce regulations when the drug is illegal, so why should they be more successful in regulating it when its production and sale is no longer against the law?

The problem with these rancorous but sterile arguments for and against legalisation and decriminalisation is that they divert attention from what should and can be done: a sustained campaign to persuade people of all ages that cannabis can send them insane. To a degree people are learning this already from bitter experience. As Professor Murray told me five years ago, the average 19- to 23-year-old probably knows more about the dangers of cannabis than the average doctor “because they have a friend who has gone paranoid. People know a lot more about bad trips than they used to.”

Patrick Cockburn is the co-author of Henry’s Demons: Living With Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Drugs, Marijuana, Mental Illness 
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  1. Dan Hayes says:

    Concomitant with the approval and acceptance of cannabis usage in the US is the disapproval and rejection of tobacco usage. Here tobacco users are ostracized. It is within the realm of possibility that they might eventually be branded with a “T”, shades of The Scarlett Letter.

    While the psychological damage of cannabis usage has been established (although neglected) I believe that its physiological damage is an untapped research field that until now has been seriously neglected.

  2. Dan Hayes says:

    Equally conversant with this topic is the Daily Mail‘s Peter Hitchens. I am under the impression that his warnings about the psychological problems/dangers of cannabis usage have essentially been neglected.

  3. The real danger is to non users. It’s called reefer madness.

    • Agree: Roderick Spode
    • Replies: @Anon
  4. This sounds a lot like another Galileo Galilei moment in the history of science.

    The two big ones right now might be: IQ denialism. Immigration damage.

    Is the taboo against cannabis-research number three?

    (If so: Is there a pattern?)

  5. TG says:

    Excellent article.

    My wife is a practicing psychiatrist with a special interest in schizophrenia, and she has no doubt that cannabis is causing psychosis in young people.

    Indeed, a problem is that the cannabis of today is way more potent than the cannabis of the 1960’s, they are really not the same. So in the 1950’s we wildly exaggerated the dangers of the then-mild marijuana, and people felt that this was all victorian rot and didn’t take the warning seriously. Now street marijuana is way way more potent and people still have the notion that the warnings are not credible… Kind of like the boy who cried wolf.

    As far as regulating: cannabis is not a single thing, some compounds are more toxic than others. A regulated market in cannabis could set standards, and enforce that legal cannabis had moderate strength and little of the really nasty chemicals. I mean look at distilled alcohol: sure anyone can make illegal booze, but it’s hard, and legal booze is clean and tastes good, doesn’t have lead or methanol etc. in it, and you can rely on the percent alcohol on the label to be correct. So virtually all distilled alcohol consumed in this country is of the legal, regulated variety. There is no reason that cannabis can’t be the same.

  6. While cannabis use is statistically associated with psychosis – cannabis use is more prevalent in psychotics than in the general population – the correlation does not prove causation.

    Tobacco smoking’s association with schizophrenia is statistically stronger than the link to cannabis, but it would be a big leap to conclude that tobacco smoking causes psychosis.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  7. Anonymous [AKA "Joe Trethewey"] says:

    Marijuana is treated by some like it’s some kind of sacred cure all gift from the gods that is beyond criticism. These people are usually the ones who abuse it. We as a society need to realize that the total prohibition of cannabis has been a disaster that only made the problem much worse. A sober-well reasoned de-criminalization with strict government controls as to the production and distribution of recreational marijuana needs to be brought forward. The monies earned from tax could be put towards education and research (so that we truly know as much as we know about tobacco and alcohol) what cannabis does to a person’s system. This increased knowledge will allow us to create a marijuana that is safer for those who choose to use it.

  8. anon[391] • Disclaimer says:

    A country that uses images for reaching political conclusions, anecdotes for drug sheet summary and acceptances ,sound -bites for learning ,and religious chanting for foreign policies can’t be faulted for changing attitudes from punitive of zero tolerance ” me feel good ‘ embrace of drug cultures now served with medical overlay .

    Is this mentality preparing the peasants for much worst fates ?

  9. Disclosure: let’s get this out of the way first, to pre-empt nonsense.

    I have never smoked anything in my entire life (but I reject the “second hand smoke” hypothesis), and I am not a Scientologist (that’s required for reasons that will become clear). I am an anti-smoker, militant atheist, and opponent of prohibition.


    Most published research findings are wrong, and that goes at least double for psych research. Ignore any claimed link between any form of mental illness, and any behaviour that is politically unpopular. The more strident the claim of a link, the closer the research is to bullshit.

    Bear in mind: these are the intellectual descendants of the motherfuckers who invented drapetomania to explain slaves’ desire for freedom, and “sluggish schizophrenia” to explain dissidents in the USSR; now, any male child who can’t be tamed by an obese 40-something spinster, is ADHD or “oppositionally defiant”.

    OK, let’s get to the long (long) version.

    The supposed ‘research’ upon which the statistical link between ‘psychosis/schizophrenia’ and smoking weed is based, is, like most psychological research, abysmal. It is ‘case study’ level worst-practice.

    That is to say:
    ★ it was undertaken poorly;
    ★ makes assertions of causal linkages with no statistical proof of causation;
    ★ is epistemologically problematic because one half of the ‘relationship’ is determined almost entirely subjectively (‘as schizophrenia’), and the other half is determined by survey (‘smokes skank weed heavily’); and
    ★ was undertaken by people with significant financial incentives to reach a specific conclusion.

    In baseball, three strikes and you’re out. That’s four strikes against this piece of “studies say” bullshit, but somehow it’s still “batter up”.

    Strike five: the samples are certainly not random. Invariably these pieces of research happen in mental hospitals, and the population is the population of people who have admitted themselves, or have been admitted, to such a place. If they are representative of anything, they are representative of people who have been diagnosed with mental illness (that’s not saying a lot, since diagnostic tools for mental illness are abysmally inaccurate – of which, more below).

    Strike 6: the psychiatric and psychology professions (and particularly psychiatry) have a very very long track record of over-egging the diagnostic pudding – claiming levels of prevalence of mental disorders that are simply not borne out by anything other than their say-so. (And they very very carefully and deliberately cultivate the public image that they are scientific and that they are part of the medical fraternity – hence the monogrammed white coats and pocket-protectors as they go through a hecklist pulled out of someone’s ass).

    Strike Seven: the only people who can replicate the outcomes of a very large proportion of psych research, are people with the same biases as the original researchers. (That’s a key indicator of charlatanry).

    That ‘replicability crisis’ (also called a ‘reproducability crisis’) in medical and pharma research has been a hot topic since the mid -90s, and exploded into public prominence with the publication of Ioannides (2005) “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False“.

    The problem outlined by Ioannides is far far worse in psych, where only 40% of the 100 major psych studies have been replicated at levels that support the studies’ initial claims of statistical significance.

    I could go on, get two more strikes, declare the innings closed and put psychocharlatanry in the dustbin of history where it belongs… but its nexus with that other bastion of half-thought-out dilettante “we know better” nonsense – journalism – turns three strikes into a walk: any more strikes and they’ll have bases loaded.

    So let’s just get stuck into the statistical shittery in the piece as presented.
    On Testing and False Positives.

    Let’s get one thing really clear: the statistical power of the test used to define one half of the ‘problem’ is extremely poor – namely, the proportion of each sub-population with schizophrenia.

    Psychology (and psychiatry) is replete with diagnostic tools that are presented as if they are akin to blood tests (you either ‘have’ the thing, or don’t, if the test says so), but they differ from blood-antibody tests in that they are entirely subjective, with the determination entirely in the hands of the person administering the test.

    This yields terrible statistical properties, as you might imagine.

    The psychological testing protocol with the best statistical properties (the test of predisposition to violence) is extremely bad – it has specificity of about 70% (slightly lower in fact), and a sensitivity in the same ballpark (again, below 70%). And as the people cited above state, the “partisan” estimate of the prevalence of schizophrenia is of the order of 2%.

    Sensitivity, specificity, and prevalence interact meaningfully when tests are employed in large populations, and the mathematics of this is well understood.

    So let’s see what that means for some very basic metrics for that test (which, to reiterate, is the best statistical test in the psycho-charlatan’s toybox).

    Let’s use some squiggles so we don’t have to write out ‘specificity’, ‘sensitivity’ and ‘prevalence’ all the damn time. Let’s call

    σ = sensitivity;
    s = specificity; and
    π – prevalence.

    For those playing at home: the key metric we want to determine are
    ★ PPV (positive predictive value) and its enlightened twin,
    ★ NPV (negative predictive value).

    PPV is the probability that a person who tests positive has the disease (i.e., “true postives confirmed”);

    NPV is the probability that a person who tests negative does not have the disease (i.e., “true negatives confirmed”)

    Now the formula for each is simple:

    PPV = σπ/(σπ + (1-s)(1-π))
    NPV = s(1-π)/(s(1-π) + (1-σ)π))

    (Those would look so much simpler if this comment area wasn’t math-retarded).

    So anyhow… let’s use 0.7 (70%) for σ and s. That’s the same as assuming that the test for schizophrenia is as good as the best test in psych – which it’s absolutely not).

    And let’s use 2% for π because the man in the white coat said so (even though it’s almost certainly an over-estimate by an order of magnitude).

    Plugging those numbers in, we get

    PPV = 0.045 (i.e., 4.5%);

    So the probability of a false positive is 95.5% – and that probability will be higher if the sensitivity and specificity of the test for schizophrenia are worse than that for psych’s ‘best’ test.

    One good thing: using those same numbers, the NPV is 99.1%.

    So you can be fairly certain that you’re not schizo if they say you’re not (although you can be fairly certain you’re not schizo, ex ante: the unconditional probability of not-being-schizo is at least 98%).

    But if they say you are, there’s a 95% chance that they’re plain fucking wrong.

    • Replies: @restless94110
  10. Sparkon says:

    What about the anti-cancer properties of marijuana?

    From the National Cancer Institute:

    • Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.

    • Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth

    • A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.

    • A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells.

    • A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells.

    • A review of 34 studies of cannabinoids in glioma tumor models found that all but one study showed that cannabinoids can kill cancer cells without harming normal cells.

    “THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties. This compound is known to act through a specific family of cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors,” says Dr. Peter McCormick, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy.

    Cannabis reduces tumor growth in study

    • Replies: @2stateshmustate
  11. eah says:

    You can find your answer in the graph below.

    And trust me: if the opioid overdose death epidemic can be ignored, so can mental health problems caused by cannabis use/abuse.

  12. nickels says:

    Psychotics don’t ask for a living wage and pot-induced psychotics don’t remember to plan a revolution; hence I suspect legalization will accelerate.
    Suspect a rash of COPD about 20 years from now.

    • Replies: @Sparkon
    , @Thorby
    , @t-gordon
  13. Biff says:

    sustained campaign to persuade people of all ages that cannabis can send them insane.

    They might even lie you into war, but I suspect the heavy drinkers will beat them to it.

  14. Anonymous [AKA "Jack Herer"] says:

    What is psychosis?

    Alcohol use to the point of being drunk causes “psychosis” too.

    The real reason, I suspect, for all this noise is that most find hippies annoying hypocrites, pot or no pot.

  15. Sparkon says:

    Suspect a rash of COPD about 20 years from now.

    According to studies by the National Institutes of Health published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there is no strong evidence that smoking only marijuana leads to COPD:

    Given the consistently reported absence of an association between use of marijuana and abnormal diffusing capacity or signs of macroscopic emphysema, we can be close to concluding that smoking marijuana by itself does not lead to COPD.

    Does smoking marijuana increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?


    Smoking both tobacco and marijuana synergistically increased the risk of respiratory symptoms and COPD. Smoking only marijuana was not associated with an increased risk of respiratory symptoms or COPD.

    Marijuana and chronic obstructive lung disease: a population-based study.

    From WebMD:

    20-Year-Long Study Finds No Decline in Lung Function for Occasional Pot Smokers
    In fact, the study found that the lung function of most marijuana smokers actually improved slightly over time
    Donald P. Tashkin, MD, medical director of the pulmonary function laboratory at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has spent his career studying the health effects of marijuana.
    His own study of heavy, habitual marijuana smokers — people who smoked the equivalent of a joint a day for 50 years — found no harmful effect on lung function.

    (my bolds)

  16. TG says:

    OK, granted that many (most?) medical studies are flawed or wrong. But when my wife says that, over and over, she sees teenagers start using Marijuana and then suddenly developing schizophrenia, I tend to believe her. Maybe these patients would have converted later on without marijuana, maybe not: why mess around?

    It’s important to realize that the risks are mostly for teenagers, not adults. My wife sees many adults that use marijuana, and unless they already have schizophrenia, they generally don’t develop it.

    The teenage brain is in a delicate state, where the highest levels of cognition are fine-tuning themselves. For reasons not fully understood, this is a vulnerable time which is when many mental disorders, including schizophrenia, develop. This is when cannabis seems to be most risky. And indeed, in older adults where the neural wiring is now fixed, cannabis does seem relatively benign. In older patients with schizophrenia, marijuana does not seem to make them worse and can even be calming. As with all drugs, marijuana can be toxic at the wrong ages and the wrong people, but beneficial for others.

    “Psychosis” is a state, which can be elicited by acute toxic reactions and then people can sometimes recover. Schizophrenia is a chronic and essentially permanent condition. The drugs that treat it have horrible side effects and are not very effective. There has been no improvement in treatment for several decades now, and nothing better seems to be coming. Schizophrenia is not that common, maybe a percent of the population or less, BUT, as it is a lifetime sentence, and people are essentially not able to earn a living or have a decent family life for the years from 20 to 80, the overall impact is much larger than for someone 80 years old dying of a heart attack.

    Bottom line: schizophrenia is nasty. Anything that might increase its incidence even a little should be avoided like the plague, at least until more is known.

  17. Anonymous[409] • Disclaimer says:

    How come black people don’t seem to be affected?

    • Replies: @Anon
  18. Antiwar7 says:

    The author, Patrick Cockburn, states “commercialisation of cannabis has as many dangers as criminalisation.” This statement is pretty hard to sustain. Consider the horrendous drug gang violence in Mexico; the cost of paying for and enduring abusive police forces, jails, and courts; giving violent criminals the de facto ability to print money, etc, vs the negative medical effects in some users. (His bias is quite understandable given his personal situation involving his son. I feel sorry for them, and hope things keep overall improving for them.)

    That said, I fully agree with Cockburn in that the dangers of cannabis should be publicized. (And the science should be taken further: could this discovery:
    lead to a new test for susceptibility to schizophrenia? And such people would be strongly cautioned to stay away from cannabis. Even providing it to them knowingly could be a felony, and a lower-level crime in any case, to foster that question between users.)

    In fact, I suspect some famous “acid casualties” of the 60’s may have been precipitated by cannabis, instead, perhaps such as Roger “Syd” Barrett, Peter Green, and others. (Not to lay any stigma on those people: I don’t claim they were mentally ill.) Whereas the research on true hallucinogens like psilocybin and LSD is quite positive, for depression and anxiety and even spirituality, under trained and effective supervision. See, for ex:

    Let’s get all these pros and cons well-publicized! (And further studied, for these and other effects.) I’d be happy to pay taxes for that.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
  19. Since this post contradicts 100% of over 80 years of research, it would be great to see more evidence for your (oh so original) theory.

    Even if weed did increase schizophrenia that would be a much less dangerous side effect than ANY of the pharmaceutical alternates is another hole in your theory. It’s also almost 100% effective in treating PTSD in the individuals compatible with the drug. Which is yet another fact that is ignored to pursue anti weed/pro pharmaceutical illogic.

  20. greg54 says:

    It really is quite vague. The whole banning of the hemp plant was a commercial and control freak scam in the first place. Young rebellious people saw it as a way to buck the system.
    No mention of the neurotoxic effects of vaccines with associated ASD and ritalin prescriptions. Then there is alcoholism and plain depression and a new spotlight on demonic possession. The report specifies the highly potent skunk weed and this appears to be a chronic abuse substance which along with other drugs, will be used by people with other underlying problems.
    Just what percentage of chronic psychosis is actually CAUSED by this substance?

  21. Having worked in mental health in a number of roles in a number of countries over some decades, I have no doubt at all that cannabis use often exacerbates symptoms of schizophrenia and causes relapses in people who have already been diagnosed with that condition.

    Whether it causes schizophrenia in people who are otherwise perfectly mentally healthy is another matter. I suspect that prolonged and heavy use does adversely affect some people who would not otherwise be affected.

    The relationship may be similar to that between alcohol and dementia. Not everyone who drinks alcohol develops alcoholic dementia, but the more you drink and the longer you drink it, the more likely it is to develop, especially if you didn’t have much mental capacity to start with.

  22. Anonymous [AKA "Thorny"] says:

    What a bunch of bovine excretement. Reefer Madness still exists at the UNZ. You just wrecked your credibility as a website. You also just told everyone who you are flakking for. More controlled opposition. Pathetic!

  23. Thorby says:

    Been smoking,now vaping and eating Cannabis for about 50 years. I have Crohn’s disease and Cannabis has allowed me to keep ALL my intestines. No COPD. Mom had COPD and later lung cancer which she died from.
    60 years of cigarettes. We have no sign of COPD and we walk about 25 miles a week and bicycle another 40 miles a week.
    This is one last desperate example of Reefer Madness. Cockburn the socialist is full of it,just like his brothers.

  24. Thorby says:

    When you publish fantasy and fiction like this it makes me wonder about the credibility of the UNZ Review in general. Your truthfulness as a website has taken a disabling hit. You are a controlled opposition site. This will be posted in social media as fiction and as a deception,cover up and or propaganda. Of the worst sort!

  25. t-gordon says:

    I’ve always been pretty laissez faire about drugs, life and most things in general, but got to thinking about the prevalence of drug use, drug acceptance and the general torpor of today along with the “anything goes” sexual mores of the times and had to wonder if drug legalization, acceptance, etc and the decriminalization, normalization and acceptance of behaviors such as pedophilia might be accelerating in tandem because, well…

  26. @Anonymous

    Be quiet, suka. UNZ posts lots of articles, with lots of differing opinions. It also includes differing comments, like yours. No one will fall for your attempt to convince us this site is “controlled opposition.”

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  27. See what a life of weed leads you to? Right here:

    • Replies: @Scott Locklin
  28. Anonymous[409] • Disclaimer says:


  29. @John Burns, Gettysburg Partisan

    No one will fall for your attempt to convince us this site is “controlled opposition.”

    So, was he pro or against weed? Controlled opposition? Absurd. If anything,..

  30. TheJester says:

    Learning from experience …

    I worked in a machine shop in the mid-1960s. The foreman chain-smoked non-filtered cigarettes. On breaks, he used himself as a vociferous example that smoking did not cause cancer. As he told the story, he had been smoking non-filtered cigarettes for 30 years … and look at him, he was in perfect health.

    Then, one day he wasn’t feeling well. He went to the doctor; he had lung cancer. The doctor gave him a few months to live.

    One would think that young people would learn from example and appreciate the plague that “tobacco culture” visited on society from WWI to the present. Nicotine was addictive … so cigarette smokers refused to listen to the cautions. This is apparently being repeated in the nascent “skunk culture”.

    The real issue is how to reach young people who are addicted to a wide range of habits — sex, marijuana, alcohol, opiates — that they believe can calm their anxieties and depressions without side effects or consequences.

    Dream on …! It would seem that an old axiom would apply: “If it can do something for you … it is likely doing something to you.” Pay attention. Everything you do in life has consequences.

    • Replies: @Anon
  31. @Jim Christian

    Erm, a lifetime of weed will lead me to a nekkid sunburned fat lady with an unpleasant look on her moosh? Thank goodness I quit.

    I always figured the push for pot legalization is pretty much the same as the push for unfettered immigration. Aka more votes for the left. Smoking that chiba no doubt makes it easier to accept the clown world we live in.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
    , @Anonymous
  32. FDA just approved Epidiolex, a cannabis drug, for treatment of epilepsy. Apparently, it reduces seizures.

  33. @Anonymous

    1. thanks to krato, great point to ALWAYS keep in mind with regard to tabloided experiment results, Big Pharma slanted ‘research’, and the limits of psychology as a repeatable science…
    2. really, both the Cockburn bros are quite the moral scolds and proudly ignorant of so much they dismiss(ed) with a wave of their imperious hand… um, for an iconoclastic rebel spurning Empire, Cockburn sure does like to rely on their lies…
    3. seriously, 94% seized is “SUPER SKUNK” ! ! ! O to the M to the G, run for your lives, it is fucking reefer madness part deux… sweet geebus, how can anyone read past such howlers and take the author seriously…
    4. um, in that -what?- AT LEAST 50% of adult merikans have (admitted) to smoking dope, and I am guessing the percentage is much higher among the youngsters, then OF COURSE it is likely that WHATEVER medical condition or psychological syndrome will have been by a person likely to have used MJ, uh to the duh… I bet those schizos breath oxygen, too ! ! ! scary stuff ! ! !

  34. Q: “Why Do We Underplay the Links Between Cannabis and Psychosis?

    A: Because the overseers of the academic and media classes are all current or former members of the Cool Kids Pot Smoking Club and they don’t want to narc.

  35. Over the last couple of years there’s been a huge push to legitimize pot smoking from the media and Hollywood.

    The cynic in me suspects that this is because a population that’s high most of the time is too dopey and passive to cause any trouble and are thus easier to control and can be convinced to buy more worthless shit.

  36. Right here on Unz there’s a writer who hangs around a lot of druggies in Philadelphia. They all seem fine to me.

  37. Gordo says:

    its image softened by the afterglow of its association with cultural and sexual liberation in the 1960s and 1970s

    And the control of perception by those losers from that era. Time they were put out to pasture. Or culled.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  38. Greg54 says:

    Can’t we just correct the fraudulent “axe murderer” conspiracy, and criminal creation scheme, to ban a natural fibre with probable medicinal properties in the first place?
    It is a plant that the US ended up defoliating high rainfall Bangladesh calling it “foreign aid”.
    The crime knows no bounds.

  39. @Scott Locklin

    Maybe, but stoners sit home instead of voting.

    • Replies: @Sparkon
  40. @Gordo

    Here’s one now, with Papa Bush. Except Bill didn’t inhale or like it:

  41. Sparkon says:
    @Jim Christian

    Maybe, but stoners sit home instead of voting.

    Source please.

    Meanwhile, drunkards and other maniacs get behind the wheel and kill somebody.

    2016 national data:
    • Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent;
    • Drowsy-driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5 percent;
    • Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 fatalities) increased by 1.7 per­cent;
    • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0 percent;
    • Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6 percent;
    • Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities) increased by 5.1 percent;
    • Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities) increased by 9.0 percent;
    • Bicyclist deaths (840 fatalities) increased by 1.3 percent.

  42. @Kratoklastes

    Your response was fucking fantastic!! Well done.

  43. You might become psychotic, or then again, you might win 23 Olympic gold medals.

  44. Anon[306] • Disclaimer says:

    The trouble is that newbies typically don’t know themselves very well. They might take pot thinking it will affect them the same way it does their friends. Yet they might have underlying issues they’ve not dealt with that pot will exacerbate…like an undiagnosed diabetic eating too much sugar.

  45. Anon[306] • Disclaimer says:

    >” How come black people don’t seem to be affected?”


    ~Shirley U. Geste

  46. Anon[306] • Disclaimer says:

    We live in a Western culture that mocks emotions, especially per men. Hell, the typical response guys give to “How’s it goin’?” is “Can’t complain!”

    And indeed they can’t.

    Feminists, who bitch that men are emotionally-constipated, openly mock “male tears.”

    No wonder that the highest rate of suicide is among males (including, now, male farmers)!

    I suspect there would be less drug-booze-pot use if men’s concerns were addressed more compassionately, seriously, and effectively. Yet males are expected to suffer so others don’t.

  47. Anonymous [AKA "Jordan shepherd"] says:

    Lol I know people who are schizophrenic and smoke and claim it helps them mind you they were schizo before they ever touched the reefer, this post is using false studies and info

  48. Duglarri says:

    Why is an expert on international politics weighing in on cannabis? Do you have a medical degree? Have you spent years researching this issue? Do you understand the epidemiology of mass consumption, the economics of cost-benefit analysis?

    By the evidence of this article, the answer is “no”.

    There are studies and research on the topic of cannabis and legalization, but you are not qualified to assess them. As you are not qualified in that interpretation, your commentary amounts to little beyond cherry-picked anecdotes and a handful of citations drawn from a vast body of conflicting research- much of it produced under conditions of extreme political hostility to cannabis.

    There is grounds here for handing the question over to experts, and relying on their judgements, rather than pretending that people with no training can assert greater authority than people who spend decades researching the issue.

    • Replies: @James N. Kennett
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  50. My understanding is that this risk only applies to individuals with a genetic predisposition toward psychosis, i.e. it may trigger something latent. If you know your extended family medical history and there’s no schizophrenia there you are G O O D T O G O 🙂

  51. JessicaR says:

    Based on this article, my impression is that the researchers have noticed a correlation between marijuana use and schizophrenia but have not established causality. It is entirely possible that a kid suffering from early-stage schizophrenia may be self-medicating with marijuana. Then, when the disease progresses and becomes so obvious it is diagnosed, mental health professionals assume a causal link between marijuana and the illness. If there is a causal link, it may be the other way around–that schizophrenia leads to increased marijuana use and not that marijuana in some way causes schizophrenia.

    Huge numbers of schizophrenics–up to 80%–smoke cigarettes, apparently because nicotine alleviates some of the most distressing symptoms of the disease. However, no one claims that tobacco is the cause of schizophrenia, only a result.

    I would also point out that most normal kids do not smoke marijuana everyday. If a kid is smoking every day for a long period, something else is wrong.

    And no, I don’t smoke marijuana and generally avoid those who do. I also assume that any drug has both positive and negative results to its use. No doubt there are serious consequences to *heavy* marijuana use but I am not sure that marijuana plays a causal role in schizophrenia.

  52. JRB says: • Website

    Apart from causing and/or triggering psychosis in some people who are so genetically predisposed another frequently occurring nasty side effect of regularly smoking cannabis for a few years is severe deterioration of memory. This can be so bad that 30 year olds cannot work in normal jobs anymore.

    • Replies: @JessicaR
  53. JessicaR says:

    Since we are discussing schizophrenia, I would also note that anti-psychotics used to treat schizophrenia also cause significant memory loss after only a few months of use. Medical scans show deterioration of the areas in the brain associated with memory. Yet, these powerful drugs, which also promote weight gain and type II diabetes, shortening the lifespan of schizophrenics significantly, are completely legal and the physicians who prescribe them enjoy huge salaries, prestige, and a kind of social authority that is, in my view, completely undeserved. For example, in death penalty cases, psychiatric testimony can determine who is sentenced to death or, as execution looms, who is declared sane and fit for execution and who is not.

  54. Anonymous[157] • Disclaimer says:

    I think these huge increases in the relative risk of schizophrenia are unlikely because the brain changes associated with schizophrenia are too extensive and because people who go on to develop schizophrenia often have personality disorders and socioeconomic issues that are associated with increased drug use.

    One wrinkle with the Lancet paper is that they report overall psychosis rather than full-blown schizophrenia. What percentage of these cases are just brief, reversible, drug-induced psychosis?

    While a degree of potentiation or causation cannot be ruled out, there is definitely a lot of correlation. Alas, that grant should not have been denied.

  55. @Sparkon

    Bravo. Thank you for taking time to refute this, what I believe is psycho-bs. Myself, I think the whole psychology-industrial complex is self-serving garbage and a total waste of resources. But just like with religion weak minded people need this crap to justify their screwed up lives.

  56. utu says:

    Why we do not hear about bad sides to marijuana business? Follow the money. In Colorado I knew several marijuana dispensaries that were run by Israelis. Then I learned that Israel has big industry and “research” in “medical” marijuana which I did not know at that time.

    Who is really behind the marijuana industry? Look into the know-how and investments from Israel in the marijuana industry. The shift in media coverage leading to legitimization and acceptance and push for legalizations in the last decade cannot really be explained without big money interests. Where the money did come from? It could be from anybody, right? but Columbian, Jamaican and Mexican drug cartels do not have political influence.

    How the Booming Israeli Weed Industry Is Changing American Pot

    Publicly Traded Israeli Cannabis Companies to Watch


    In Israel, booming medical marijuana looks to conquer new highs

    The Holy Land of Medical Marijuana

    A Canadian Marijuana Company Is Now Trading On The NASDAQ

    Israeli Medical Cannabis Firm Signs $300M Deal In Canada

    A similar process could have been observed when the idea for Indian casinos was floated in late 1970s. Who was behind it then? Do you know that the know-how and the business model was first pilot tested in South Africa’s Bantustans? Ever wondered about connections of Jack Abramoff to South Africa?

    The globalization of casino gambling throughout South Africa and on Indian Lands in California share two important similarities. First, in each case casinos have been legitimated through reference to their potential for the development of historically oppressed ethnic groups. And second, in each case large Western gambling corporations, partnered with local associations of these ethnic groups, are intimately involved in the set-up and operation of the industry.

  57. anarchyst says:

    Incarcerating and criminalizing people for mere possession of a plant is a prime example of insanity.
    Marijuana is a vasodilator, unlike tobacco, which is a vasoconstrictor. If the irritation factor could be taken out of smoking marijuana, it would be an effective treatment for asthma.
    Smoking marijuana is not the only way of ingestion. It can be added to food, used as a liniment, or even vaporized to realease the THC component.
    Psychosis observed in young people, usually manifests itself before a person starts using marijuana. The psychiatric community is suspect in this demonization of a useful, natural medicine and should be reminded that correlation does not equal causation.
    Let’s not forget that since marijuana is a plant, it cannot be patented; hence, the drug companies see marijuana as a threat to their “bottom line”.

  58. Ha! I call BS on this one. I’ve known lots of people who use cannabis. Never known one to go crazy from it. Some people are just crazy, it probably has more to do with the society we live in today, all the stress from the govt. and bad economy tends to drive people nuts. From my experience (lots) cannabis is much safer than booze or the pills you get from the pharmacy like Xanax or Valium, which tend to turn people into zombies. Or the psychotic drugs like prozac that turn folks suicidal and homicidal.

    I’ve known many people that cannabis has helped get off of booze and hard drugs like meth opiods etc…
    Its great for nerve pain and is the best sleep aid known to man. Lots of research showing it is useful for treating cancer also.

    Big pharma and booze lobbies want to keep it illegal for some reason, probably because they know it will cost them a lot of business. I think cannabis legalization/normalization would be great for the economy, get a lot of alcoholics back to work. You can smoke an ounce of cannabis and still get up to work the next morning feeling fine, can’t do that with booze or Xanax. Would be great for economy, small business/farms could flourish if the govt. would stay out of the way.

    Its hard to believe we’re still debating this in 2018. Legalize it!

  59. @Antiwar7

    “In fact, I suspect some famous “acid casualties” of the 60′s may have been precipitated by cannabis”

    Concur. My one episode with dissociative psychosis occurred after OD’ing on marijuana at a birthday party for a rock band after ingesting it in the cake. I hadn’t eaten dinner and thought that 3 or 4 or 5 pieces of carrot cake would be a “healthy” (hah) substitute plus it would absorb some of the beer I was drinking.

    About 4 in the morning I woke up and couldn’t figure out what was happening. I was looped. It went downhill from there. There was one voice in my head and no answer. People say they hear voices, or that schizophrenia is split personality but far more frightening is when there is no answering voice in your brain that is confirming your internal observations about your experience. It was terrible.

    As you say, acid, psilocybin and peyote had never had this kind of effect; just the opposite. They were religious, ultimately affirming experiences.

    Three or four days after the party I was telling a friend of my experience and he informed me that the cake had been baked with lots of pot. Until then I hadn’t a clue. That explained it, but not really. Nothing explains the loss of mind and identity. Pretty much put me off on drugs as gateways to truer reality.

  60. Anonymous[266] • Disclaimer says:

    While cannabis use is statistically associated with psychosis – cannabis use is more prevalent in psychotics than in the general population – the correlation does not prove causation.

    In my previous life I worked as a background investigator for a well-known U.S. federal agency conducting security clearance investigations. I was privy to info most people aren’t. I would have knowledge of the chronology of drug use (usually MJ). I would talk with psychiatrists and social workers and had knowledge of the nature, extent, and chronology of emotional/psychological issues. I would talk with friends, schoolmates, coworkers, et al. I would have school, work, police records, et al. And while I hold a libertarian worldview, what I saw over and over and over again convinced me that marijuana causes mental problems and smoking it is like vaping mercury.

  61. Anonymous[266] • Disclaimer says:
    @Scott Locklin

    I always figured the push for pot legalization is pretty much the same as the push for unfettered immigration. Aka more votes for the left. Smoking that chiba no doubt makes it easier to accept the clown world we live in.

    Leftist Cockburn will pooh-pooh this but I think there is a very real socio-political reason for the promotion of marijuana use.

    …Marijuana works on some of the same areas of the brain as opioids–those that perceive pain…”
    – Devi E. Nampiaparampil, MD, Assistant Professor, NYU School of Medicine

    Hmm, I wonder for other effects come from dulling that part of the brain?

    Oxytocin can increase kindness towards refugees, even amongst those with a fear of foreigners

    …The researchers, from the University of Bonn in west Germany, claim their finding could eventually help people adapt to living around migrants.

    ‘The combined enhancement of oxytocin and peer influence could diminish selfish motives,’ study lead author Professor Rene Hurlemann said.

    ‘Given the right circumstances, oxytocin may help promote the acceptance and integration of migrants into Western cultures,’…

    Cannabis of the Saints.

  62. @Duglarri

    Why is an expert on international politics weighing in on cannabis? Do you have a medical degree? Have you spent years researching this issue? Do you understand the epidemiology of mass consumption, the economics of cost-benefit analysis?

    By the evidence of this article, the answer is “no”.

    You didn’t follow the links, did you.

  63. Flemur says:

    “a sustained campaign to persuade people of all ages that cannabis can send them insane”

    They did that from the 1920’s thru the 1960’s, at least … and you’re still doing it. But it doesn’t work anymore because people know better.

    “As 94 per cent of cannabis seized by the police today is super-strength skunk, compared to 51 per cent in 2005,”

    Well, gee, if only there were some statistics which showed or implied causation, like, say, since more people are smoking “super-strength skunk”, there are more people diagnozed with schizophrenia. But either there are NOT more people with schizophrenia, or “sustained campaign” articles like this on consistently omit that information for some mysterious reason.

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