• Christopher Smith, Publisher

Mental Illness Mention in Cannabis Headline Hides Breakthroughs

An article posted yesterday in Psychology Today reveals familiar tactics from the purveyors of Reefer Madness, but within the thicket of mumbo-jumbo are two findings that I had not seen in a scientific publication before, and both are potentially huge.

According to this article, research shows:

  • TOBACCO INCREASES RISK OF SCHIZOPHRENIA and

  • CANNABIS REVERSES TWO KEY CAUSES OF MENTAL DECLINE IN OLDER ADULTS.

OK, back to the top: the article with the historically-consistent and titillating title, Does Cannabis Cause Schizophrenia? by Gary L. Wenk, PhD, a Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience & Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics at the Ohio State University and Medical Center. (Note: PhD, not MD)


To be efficient with your time, Dear Reader, let us dispatch with the age-old trope that cannabis causes schizophrenia. This article does NOTHING to advance the scientific discussion on the subject. There are vague “findings” of correlation between schizophrenia and cannabis and, despite the suggestive headline, there is NO INDICATION HERE about which causes which.


In fact, the majority of the article suggests that there is no causal relationship whatsoever; that schizophrenia has distinct causes that are largely genetic AND IN FACT ANOTHER RISK FACTOR FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA IS TOBACCO. ("Making matters worse, tobacco use increases the risk of becoming schizophrenic (we do not read as much about this link in the popular press.")


ABOUT CORRELATION: the article states: “… people who are affected by the early symptoms of schizophrenia might be turning to marijuana to self-medicate.” As a foundational issue, patients with mental illness are known to try virtually anything that helps alleviate the trauma and symptoms of their illness, from cannabis to exercise to alcohol to risky behaviors to self-harm. I was encouraged to find some honesty about the limits of scientific understanding of either psychosis or cannabis use.


Having admitted no causality, Psychology Today still has the nerve to wastes our time by saying “recent studies indicate that the answer depends on three factors.

  • Your genes

  • How much THC, the principal active ingredient, is being taken into the body.

  • Your age" (I re-ordered these here to make a point).

ABOUT GENETICS: Dr. Wenk says if you have a schizophrenic sibling, you are genetically pre-disposed to schizophrenia. Headline-question answered, Full Stop.


But the author goes on to suggest that if you have the gene for this illness, you should not use cannabis. Really? Why? What if cannabis makes a person feel better or reduces symptoms? Isn’t that the point of medicine, doctor? (or Editor, depending on who added this comment.)


Also: “Inheriting a genetic predisposition to psychosis makes one vulnerable to the consequences of long-term, high-dose cannabis use.” There is no basis for these statements and no definition of “…the consequences of long-term, high-dose cannabis use.” It sounds science-y, but it’s empty Reefer-Madness rhetoric.


HOW MUCH THC: No evidence whatsoever and shouldn’t have bothered mentioning it. THC is the modern version of the boogeyman under the bed.

  • The truth is that the function and effects of THC are not fully understood by science or anyone.

  • THC’s positive effects are rarely (never?) mentioned in scientific literature

  • The effect of the combination of all the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids and their interactions with the endocannabinoid system are all well over the heads of scientists, who have been handcuffed for nearly a century by Reefer-Madness-motivated anti-cannabis laws that have stifled learned investigation and innovation.

  • It's as if scientists studying fish do not understand water.

LACK OF CONTROL: Also, all the evidence submitted here is in uncontrolled environments, with patients acting in their own normal patterns in their own homes and then reporting their own memories and opinions rather than having them controlled and observed in a laboratory environment. No control over behavior, food intake, other behaviors... and yet cannabis is pulled out from all this noise? Nonsense.


ABOUT TOBACCO AND SCHIZOPHRENIA: This reporting says cannabis use is strongly correlated to tobacco use, AND that tobacco use increases the risk of becoming schizophrenic. ("Making matters worse, tobacco use increases the risk of becoming schizophrenic (we do not read as much about this link in the popular press)."


So scientists have discovered a causality between tobacco use and schizophrenia… Is this printed on the warning label of your Marlboro reds?


This association essentially undermines any direct genetic link between marijuana use and schizophrenia, for example, if a person smokes, then it becomes impossible to establish a causal connection between cannabis and psychosis.”


This conversation should be over right here.


ABOUT AGE: The article warns about prenatal exposure and adolescent use, as one would expect here in Psychology Today. (I personally believe that until the endocannabinoid system is understood by science as well as all the roles of all the phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, that there is no basis other than fear that harm is caused by cannabis, or that any harm that is detected cannot be reversed.)


Here’s another nugget from this study THAT SHOULD BE THE HEADLINE, the two reasons older people have mental decline is because of inflammation and that stem cells have stopped regenerating. “Research in my laboratory has demonstrated that a daily low dose of cannabis can significantly reduce brain inflammation. My lab’s research also demonstrated that stimulating cannabis receptors on surviving stem cells can restore neurogenesis."


The articles author and editors have buried two very important details under a headline that smacks of generations of reefer mad misdirection and inaccuracy.


Fortunately, The American Cannabis Report read it closely and made the effort to shine a light on these progressive new ideas.


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Image source: https://posterfoundry.com/laminated-thc-marijuana-molecule-science-green-funny-sign-poster-12x18-inch/