A Canadian study shows what most any rational person can tell you: smoking marijuana doesn’t make people go crazy.
But alcohol does.
A four-year study from the University of Calgary published this month in Schizophrenia Research studied 170 participants and concluded that marijuana doesn’t contribute to psychosis.
According to the report abstract:
“Results revealed that low use of alcohol, but neither cannabis use nor tobacco use at baseline, contributed to the prediction of psychosis in the [clinical high risk]sample.”
In other words, even low use of alcohol can increase the risk for people already predisposed psychologically to having a high risk for a diagnosable clinical psychosis. Marijuana, on the other hand, doesn’t.
The research backs findings by Harvard University that quash this whole ‘cannabis causes people to go crazy’ idea that seems to run rampant in the UK and Europe (and here in the U.S. to be fair). Some have noted the high rate of self-medication among those with mental disorders may attribute to higher rates of cannabis use in some studies.
Of course, findings like this won’t stop the associations. Last month a study came out linking teenage use of cannabis to early-onset of psychosis in people who likely would have had it anyway. (Of course, even that study has big flaws that researchers can’t ignore – notably that marijuana use doesn’t equate to causation of psychosis whatsoever. In fact, marijuana use could be linked in a completely non-detrimental way.)
Dr. Compton acknowledged that it is possible that the people who are likely to have an earlier onset of psychosis are also more likely, for whatever reason, which may be related to personality, social experience, or genetics, to also be more likely to use marijuana. As one researcher said: “at the end of the day, it’s an association, and there’s no way for us to prove that one is causing the other.”)