Does Cannabis Cause Psychosis: Coincidence or Causation

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She had already had a history of major depression, but then the 20-year-old woman started cutting and electrocuting herself. At the psychiatric ward, looking for an explanation or a cause, doctors noticed that before she’d checked into a hospital, she’d already been in the ICU—for “vaping-related lung injury” after “recurrent, severe, and heavy THC use.” And that, according to the presentation made by Michigan-based psychiatrist Chad Percifield, to the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting, was enough to finger her cannabis consumption as a potential cause—and enough to warn other heavy cannabis users that they could be next to have a mental break. “Research has previously shown that individuals who consume THC are three times as likely as those who do not to develop a psychotic disorder,” Percifield told the Midland Daily News. This was one in a series of media reports and scientific studies suggesting a link between cannabis use and psychosis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association as well as The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page—under the sub-headline “Port and psychosis link is real, researchers say.” But is it? And how real—if you’re of sound mental health, will a couple of pulls from your vape pen push you over the line? And how should cannabis users and advocates react to news of cannabis coexisting with psychotic breaks, often dishonestly framed as a causal link and cause to re-evaluate or delay marijuana legalization plans? Smoke, Then Break? Psychosis is defined as a break from “reality” that usually manifests as hallucinations or delusions—hearing or seeing something that other people can’t see or hear, such as voices or sounds. Cannabis-induced psychosis is a disconnect from reality that occurs during cannabis use, or shortly thereafter. According to researchers, this phenomenon is real. Jeffrey Chen, a physician and founder of the…

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