Originally posted October 1, 2015
One of the newest concerns about marijuana that has been gaining attention in the media recently is the worry that its consumption causes schizophrenia. This serious affliction is a mental disorder that makes it hard to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not, think clearly or have normal emotional responses. This has become one of the last clinging defenses for marijuana prohibitionists, claiming that marijuana makes you literally go crazy.
The idea that marijuana can be the sole cause of this illness with no other factors involved is a claim made primarily by sensationalists and those who do not fully understand how the illness works.
“My first seven years of research were devoted to schizophrenia and I can tell you that [the idea that marijuana can cause schizophrenia] is ridiculous.” Dr. Lester Grinspoon
Inheriting genes from both parents is a legacy of issues and benefits that none can avoid. Scientists have long known that schizophrenia is inherited genetically. The illness naturally occurs in a small percentage of the general population with a predisposition for the disease. It has a higher rate of 10 percent occurrence in those who have a first-degree family member with the ailment, such as a parent, brother or sister. The risk is highest for an identical twin of a person with schizophrenia. He or she has a 40 to 65 percent chance of developing the disorder.
After reviewing this common scientific knowledge, the reality of the true cause is clearly shown. It is genetically impossible for marijuana use to cause schizophrenia in a person that did not already have the inherit genes necessary to trigger the ailment. Which means that marijuana can not be the cause in and of itself. This by itself debunks the continually stated misunderstood theory that cannabis use alone causes schizophrenia. That being said, the secondary theory is that marijuana is simply the catalyst, causing the illness to trigger in those already predisposed, which is a plausible if not reasonable assumption.
“While cannabis may have an effect on the age of onset of schizophrenia it is unlikely to be the cause of illness,” said the researchers, who were led by Ashley C. Proal from Harvard Medical School.
It is important to understand that there are many psychological and physical events that can trigger this disease. Being the catalyst or trigger of schizophrenia is not an implication of the dangers of that action or substance. This illness can be triggered by a serious car accident but that does not mean that driving should be made illegal. Heavy alcohol or tobacco use has been known to be a trigger, as well as many others. Even serious emotional trauma can awaken the dormant gene. Whatever the catalyst, the gene itself is already present in a person who might one day suffer its effects and can not alone be attributed to any outside influence.
“We looked at the evidence, and I think we must have gone through about two thousand papers, and [marijuana] doesn’t cause schizophrenia, maybe there are some individuals with schizophrenia in which the illness is brought on perhaps a little earlier because they smoke cannabis.” Prof. David Nutt – “The Culture High”
There is an undeniable correlation between those who use cannabis and those with schizophrenia, however, a Harvard Medical study as well as many others, show that those with the gene for schizophrenia have a genetic predisposition for drug use. Seeing as how marijuana is the most common drug of choice and roughly 60% of the U.S. has smoked marijuana at some point in their lives, it becomes an easy statistic to show that the vast majority of those with schizophrenia are also marijuana smokers. One could show a direct correlation between marijuana smokers and just about anything due to the rising percentage of those who have smoked marijuana in this country. Using that same logic, one could show a direct correlation between cannabis use and the flu. There would no doubt be a large percentage of people who had previously gotten the flu, and had also smoked marijuana, simply due to the prevalence of marijuana use today. This however, does not mean that marijuana use causes the flu. This is one way that polls and statistics can be quite misleading.
The fact is that schizophrenia has a prevalence of about 1% the world around. If in fact cannabis was the direct cause or even the triggering component, there would be a corresponding rise in the occurrence of the illness along with the rise of cannabis use. Since the sixties, cannabis has rapidly increased in use and has seen a dramatic increase with the recently growing legalization movement. Yet the prevalence of the disease remains at 1%. This more so than any other graph, poll or statistic shows how the increase in marijuana use over the last fifty years has had literally zero effect on the country’s occurrence of schizophrenia. In other words, myth – debunked.
Myth #1 – Marijuana is More Harmful Than Alcohol, Tobacco and Prescription Drugs
Myth #2 – Marijuana is Addictive
Myth #3 – Marijuana Causes Schizophrenia
Myth #4 – Marijuana Has no Proven Medical Benefits
Myth #5 – Marijuana Use Leads to Harder Drugs – “Gateway Theory”
Myth #6 – Marijuana Causes Memory Loss and a General Reduction in Logic
Myth #7 – Marijuana Contains Over 400 Chemicals
Myth #8 – Marijuana Has Yet to be Subjected to Adequate Scientific Study
Myth #9 – The Marijuana Movement is Just an Excuse for People to get High
Myth #10 – Opposition to Marijuana Legalization is Driven Entirely by Cautious Prudence
Sources: http://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/schizophrenia-causes, http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/12/10/harvard-marijuana-doesnt-cause-schizophrenia/63148.html, http://schizophrenia.com/szfacts.htm#, http://www.theculturehigh.com/
This work by The Last American Vagabond is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, and may be reposted as is, with attribution to the author and TheLastAmericanVagabond.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Ryan@thelastamericanvagabond.com.