In the past few months, several articles have put for the idea of a connection between cannabis and psychosis. But is there any truth to this? At The Extract, we consider ourselves industry leaders – especially in terms of cannabis-related knowledge. Therefore, we want to unpack the idea of cannabis-induced psychosis.
If you've ever wondered, “Can weed cause psychosis?”, then you've come to the right place. Today, we'll explain the ins and outs of cannabis and psychosis – and whether or not there's an actual connection between the two.
What is psychosis?
At its core, psychosis is a mental health issue, one that affects your brain's ability to process information. People experiencing psychosis might see or hear things that aren't real. They can also experience delusions, which leads to believing a false narrative.
While psychosis is a mental health issue, it isn't an illness on its own. In fact, according to WebMD, psychosis can be triggered by several different things. For example, this can include a physical head injury, substance abuse, extreme stress or trauma, or substance abuse. So, can cannabis use induce psychosis? Let's unpack this.
Cannabis and psychosis: what is the link?
Recently, the Sunday Post published an article about a surge in mental illness diagnoses, related to marijuana use in Scotland. According to the article, Public Health Scotland has seen an increase in psychiatric hospital stays, related to cannabinoid use. However, before we attribute the rising mental health crisis to cannabis use, we have to establish two things.
First, it's important to note that the type of cannabinoid isn't specified in this article. For years, studies have indicated that THC could impair cognitive functions. Therefore, it's safe to assume that when it comes to cannabis and psychosis, THC could be the likely culprit. After all, marijuana isn't at all legal in Scotland. As it's unregulated, many people are unaware of the THC levels in recreational cannabis.
In addition to this, the article mentions that many people suffering from “cannabis-induced psychosis” had started using cannabis from a very young age. Some of them were as young as 15 years old. Ultimately, symptoms of poor mental health appeared between ages 17 and 19, with psychosis appearing from ages 19 and above. This could possibly come down to the legislation surrounding cannabis in Scotland – alongside unregulated (and oftentimes, illegal) cannabis sales.
What can be done?
THC-rich strains can often affect young people negatively. There have been numerous reports of young people falling severely ill after consuming THC-laced edibles. In addition to this, the Sunday Post suggests that the effects of cannabis can last long into adulthood, with many individuals having to live with psychosis for the rest of their lives.
Therefore, the only way to change this – to avoid the negative effects on young adults – is to regulate the industry. By doing this, the government could keep tabs on who has access to THC-rich strains, imposing sanctions on these forms of marijuana. The government could also generally limit THC-rich strains, only marketing CBD-rich forms of flower. This could be an excellent way to handle the connection between marijuana and psychosis.
Cannabis-induced psychosis isn't just a problem for young adults
Earlier, we mentioned that the link between cannabis and psychosis could potentially come down to marijuana use at a young age. However, the Scottish government – and the world in general – needs to establish that this isn't solely a problem for young adults. After all, once diagnosed, psychosis often becomes a lifelong condition, one to live with and manage.
In addition to this, cannabis-induced psychosis can also occur in adults. While this isn't very common, it can certainly happen – and very rapidly, to boot. Generally, this usually happens to people with a low THC tolerance, especially if they've consumed large amounts of THC. This can also happen to individuals with underlying mental health conditions – like schizophrenia, for example.
We should also mention that in adults, cannabis psychosis is fairly rare. Plus, it's not a lifelong condition; often, it's just a one-off event, especially if you're new to the world of cannabis. However, it can still be a fairly scary experience, particularly if you've never experienced this before. In this situation, the best thing to do is to calm the individual down, and wait for the THC to pass through their system.
What are the symptoms of weed psychosis?
A psychotic episode – cannabis-induced or not – can be a terrifying experience. While these are few and far between, they can still occur. At the Extract, we believe that the best way to get ahead of an episode is to know the symptoms, and manage them accordingly. But what exactly are the symptoms of weed psychosis?
Ultimately, you should look out for:
- Anger and agitation; people on the cusp of a cannabis-induced psychotic episode often find it difficult to regulate their emotions. Therefore, the smallest disruption to their evening might set them off. In this situation, try to calm them down, or distract them with music, conversation, or a favourite TV show. However, in extreme cases, you may have to seek medical attention.
- Confused or irrational speech. This is usually a symptom of high THC consumption – or of feeling high, in general. In this case, attempt to reassure the individual. Again, however, if you're feeling out of your depth, seek medical attention immediately.
- Difficulty concentrating; THC, in general, can cause an individual to space out. However, this can also be a psychosis-related symptom. In this case, a person usually isn't aggressive or agitated, and can be allowed to sleep off the episode.
Generally, these symptoms are manageable at home. Sometimes, however, you may feel out of your depth. In this case, we recommend seeking medical attention, or reaching out to a healthcare professional immediately. When you're out of your depth, medical help can be crucial in managing psychosis –whether or not the episode involves cannabis.
Can CBD cause psychosis?
With so many people opting for THC-free CBD options, there's no doubt they'll want to know about the link between CBD and psychosis. More studies are needed, before we can properly establish the link between CBD, cannabis, and psychosis. However, a number of studies have established that CBD could have antipsychotic properties.
A study from Psychological Medicine explored this phenomenon, leaving researchers positive about the results. According to the study, CBD could potentially play a role in decreasing symptoms of psychosis. It's important to note, however, that subjects continued using their antipsychotic medication throughout the study. Therefore, in order to properly establish CBD's efficacy in treating psychosis, scientists need to conduct more in-depth experiments, removing other forms of antipsychotic medication.
Ultimately, we can conclude that in certain scenarios, cannabis can exacerbate psychosis symptoms. However, at the very least, we know that on its own, CBD does not worsen psychosis symptoms. Therefore, if you enjoy CBD gummies or tinctures, then you can quite safely continue to use them – provided, of course, that they're manufactured by licensed CBD businesses.
By availing of these options, you can avoid the link between cannabis and psychosis, as these products will only contain trace amounts of THC. Alternatively, consider availing of products made from CBD isolate, or broad-spectrum CBD. Generally, these products are completely free from THC, which means that you can use them without fear of triggering a psychotic episode.
Therefore, to enjoy safely, always purchase your CBD from a reputable retailer, or opt for broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate. You should also steer clear of THC-rich cannabis in any way, shape, or form – especially if you're a young adult. This will help to severely reduce the risk of cannabis-induced psychosis, promoting an improved mental state for a longer period.
You may also like to read: Cannabis and Dementia: What Does the Research Say?