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Marijuana use and psychosis, new study associates usage with health risks

Posted at 6:35 AM, Mar 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-25 12:47:19-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Weed use is taking off as more states move to legalize it. Despite the buzz over marijuana, there are some severe health risks linked with frequent use.

One of the more troubling health affects to consuming marijuana, is the risk of having a psychotic episode. A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry shows that consuming weed on a daily basis and using high-potency cannabis is associated with a higher risk of psychosis.

"During an episode of psychosis, an individual might have alter perceptions. There thought processes might be different and they might lose contact with reality completely. For example, they might have hallucinations where they're seeing thing or hearing voices or they might have false belief systems," said Treusch.

The study found those who used weed daily, were three times more likely to have a psychotic episode, compared with someone who never used the drug. Use of high-potency weed everyday almost doubled those odds.

"And it gets even worse for people who use high-potency marijuana. They have a five-times greater odd of having a psychotic episode, said Treusch.

The study defines high-potency cannabis to have more than 10-percent THC.

Dr. Treusch says one theory that connects weed and psychotic episodes, is that marijuana influences dopamine in the brain; a chemical that can affect hallucinations. But she, and the study stress, that there really is no conclusive link of marijuana directly causing psychosis.

"Unfortunately, marijuana has been classified as a scheduled 1 substance by the FDA, and thus hasn't been studied completely. We would greatly benefit from having studies down so that we could completely understand what marijuana is doing to the body and mind," said Treusch.

According to the national alliance of mental health, as many as three in 100 people will have an episode at some point in their lives.