Marijuana Use Associated With Lower Mortality In Schizophrenics


We Love The Herb

The use of marijuana is associated with lower mortality risk in patients with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, according to a new study to be published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Investigators from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and South Korea’s Inje University studied the effects of lifetime substance use on mortality in 762 patients with schizophrenia or related conditions, reports Paul Armentano at the NORML Blog.
“[W]e observed a lower mortality risk-adjusted variable in cannabis users compared to cannabis non-users despite subjects having similar symptoms and anti-psychotic treatments,” researchers reported.
The association between marijuana use and lessened mortality risk could be because “cannabis users may (be) higher functioning” and because “cannabis itself may have some health benefits,” the reports authors said.

“To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to examine the risk of mortality with cannabis and alcohol in people with PD (psychiatric disorders),” the researchers concluded. “This interesting finding of decreased mortality risk … in cannabis users is a novel finding and one that will need replication in larger epidemiological studies.”

The Weed Blog
Dr. Lester Grinspoon: “I have learned to be somewhat skeptical about any single report”

“In reading the cannabis literature over the years, I have learned to be somewhat skeptical about any single report and to maintain a ‘wait and see’ posture as new data eventually flesh out the reality,” said NORML Board Member Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a legendary psychiatrist, cannabis expert, and Harvard Medical School professor.
While some studies have associated marijuana use with higher cognitive functioning — including better processing speed and verbal skills — other researchers have claimed that cannabis use, particularly heavy use at an early age, may hasten or worsen schizophrenia in those who are already prone to it.
But other experts have criticized the supposed “marijuana-schizophrenia link,” calling it “overstated” and “not particularly compelling.” They note that increased levels of marijuana use in the general population has not resulted in rising incidences of schizophrenia, as would be the case if there were a causal relationship between the two.
The administration of oral synthetic THC is associated with improved symptoms of psychosis in patients with refractory schizophrenia, according to the findings of four case reports published in the November 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Researchers reported “significant improvements” in four of eight patients after oral THC treatment, with a significant reduction in patients’ aggressive tendencies.
The full study, “Alcohol and cannabis use and mortality in people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders,” will appear in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.