Posted by: richarlm | October 3, 2018

Marijuana and Mental Illness


The following is a transcript of a Research that Matters piece from How Childhood Trauma Can Alter DNA, YOUR HEALTH Radio September 29, 2018

Adam Goldstein: Legalized marijuana and rates of mental illness. This is an interesting and important study done, actually, by our colleagues at Research Triangle Institute. What do we see?

Jamila Battle: What do we see? So it looks like they discovered a relationship between marijuana legislation, marijuana use and mental health. And that the risk of certain mental health problems is higher if you use marijuana, particularly heavy marijuana use.

Adam Goldstein: Yeah, and on the face of it that shouldn’t necessarily, shouldn’t really be too surprising because we know that heavy marijuana use can lead to psychosis and schizophrenia. But we also know that increasingly, a lot of states have both legalized marijuana recreational use but even more so have legalized medical marijuana. And they’re starting to now look at how are those legalized marijuana, both recreational and medicinal, relate to any changes in perhaps mental health. And this is some associations that they were looking at.

Jamila Battle: And they said that that relationship between marijuana use and mental illness is not really well understood and maybe it could be that people with mental illness are self-medicating or in some cases, marijuana exacerbating some latent condition.

Adam Goldstein: And so, again, this is not cause and effect and a lot of people didn’t like this particular study. Twenty nine states have legalized medical marijuana and eight states have legalized recreational marijuana and the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) study only looked at the medical marijuana law without regard to recreational use. So, to my way of looking at it, if that had been much smaller numbers would have been involved than using the medical marijuana. So I found it interesting that they found an association. It may be important it may be real. This, if true, would be some serious cause for concern. If true.

Jamila Battle: I certainly think that there’s some truth to this. As an addiction physician, there’s no free ride in the brain and certainly over time, particularly with heavy use, we develop tolerance, we have a down regulation of receptors and particularly there is some dependence issues that occur as well as withdrawal phenomenon. So, we may feel really great initially but then there’s that anti-reward, withdrawal that can look worse than anxiety, insomnia. So when we seek out the effect, it turns out we actually get the opposite of what we’re looking for.

Adam Goldstein: Yeah. So this will need a lot more research and following because, again, I think you’ve hit it on the nail that there is no free ride and there may be really positive aspects in some cases or people, but there may be some other negative aspects as well. We should understand both fully as we move forward.

You may also like:

Monitoring Marijuana Use as Attitudes, Behaviors and Legislation Change (YOUR HEALTH Radio January 2017)

New Narratives in the Field of Mental Health (YOUR HEALTH Radio May 2017)

The Media’s Portrayal of Mental Illness (YOUR HEALTH Radio October 2016)

Combining Mental Health and Primary Care (YOUR HEALTH Radio August 2015)

Provided by librarians at the University of North Carolina Health Sciences Library.


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